LINGUIST List 14.1720

Tue Jun 17 2003

FYI: English Pronunciation Guide

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Karen Chung, VOA pronunciation guide

Message 1: VOA pronunciation guide

Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2003 14:25:39 +0800
From: Karen Chung <>
Subject: VOA pronunciation guide

 The following is cross-posted from the June 2003 issue of the
Webgrammar's Food for Thought newsletter, edited and published by Judy
Vorfeld; homepage:

 The post announces an online guide to the pronunciation of foreign
names on the Voice of America (VOA) Web site. The pronunciations are
written in ad hoc phonetic symbols of the kind used in US
dictionaries, but there are magnificent audio files! A truly useful
resource for native English speakers, ESL learners, and broadcasters.

 Judy's newsletter is also well worth subscribing to; every month
it's full of unexpected treasures like this one.

 Karen Steffen Chung

Original post:

 -- SPECIAL --

A Library of Congress Reference Specialist recently sent the
STUMPERS-L Mailing List members the following information, and because
you think globally, I thought you'd find it helpful:

I would like to point out a nifty source by which anyone can find an
authoritative spelling and pronunciation of foreign place and personal
names, as well as foreign common nouns. Sometimes people know the name
of a language or country or person in the news but they want "some
authoritative spelling or pronunciation" so that they can tell their
employer or teacher the source.

Think "Voice of America" and make a URL: On the
home page, go to the lower left and click on "pronunciation guide."

1. MAIN provides a search box for typing in any word to get its
pronunciation, i.e. "abkhazia."

2. SHORT LIST gives a long list of commonly requested names and words
with their pronunciation.

3. METHODOLOGY tells where VOA got the pronunciations and cites all
its sources--great for finding basic books on language usage.

4 LANGUAGES tells how to pronounce words in various languages; a rough
guide, but just fine for those who are speaking English and don't want
to mangle the occasional foreign word.

5. EMBASSIES gives a list of countries and the locations of their
embassies in Washington.

6. DICTIONARY is a page of links to sites that provide foreign
dictionaries and other materials on foreign languages.

7. CONTACTS is a wonderful invention by which those who disagree with
VOA's recommended pronunciation of a word may say so. A telephone
number is also provided that reaches (so they say) someone who has all
the relevant printed sources within arm's reach, and if you do not
find the word you need in their list they will look it up for
you. (Our tax dollars at work!)

8. HELP is not for the helpless. It sets forth the pronunciation
scheme used in this whole guide so that the phonetically-written
pronunciations will actually make sense, in case, for instance, one
wonders whether "ay" means the vowel in "HAY" or the vowel in "HIGH."'
(Some people would really wonder about that.)

The beauty is that it is easy to remember: Voice of America = Then click on "pronunciation guide" and leave the
patron to enjoy it.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue