How Should We Pronounce Foreign Words?

How should we pronounce foreign words? 

Syelle Graves, Writing for,
Episode #544
how to pronounce foreign words

So How Should We Pronounce Foreign Words?

In conclusion, here are some suggestions: Pronounce foreign words like you hear others do in your speech community; don’t criticize people who pronounce foreign words like their own native language requires; don’t criticize people who pronounce them like the foreign language; if you’d like to pronounce the foreign word in its original way, think about the people with whom you are speaking—do they speak that language, or know how to say those words the original way, too? And finally, if you’re traveling and speaking or learning to speak a foreign language there, try pronouncing English loanwords and names their way! The locals probably won’t even notice, and, they may understand you a lot faster.

(1) Lev-Ari, S., San Giacomo, M., & Peperkamp, S. (2014). The effect of domain prestige and

interlocutors’ bilingualism on loanword adaptations. Journal of Sociolinguistics 18(5), 658–684.

(2) LinguiSchtick. (2015, Sept. 29). It’s okay if you can’t pronounce foreign words. LinguiSchtick. Accessed 2016, Sept. 27. https://linguischtick.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/its-ok-if-you-cant-pronounce-foreign-words/

This article was written by Syelle Graves, who has two master's degrees in linguistics. You can read more about her at syellegraves.com

Did you know Australians pronounce "fillet" as "fill-it"?


About the Author

Syelle Graves, Writing for Grammar Girl

Syelle Graves has a master’s degree in linguistics and is the assistant director of ILETC (Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context). You can find her at syellegraves.com.

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