This page hopes to provide some help in pronouncing names that you might be unfamiliar with. Asking someone how they pronounce their own name is recommended as there can be a range of dialectical or preferential pronunciations. However, even that can be problematic if the speaker uses sounds or intonation patterns from a language that you are unfamiliar with, which makes it easy to mishear or mispronounce what was spoken. Below are some guides to assist you in your efforts to show respect to your colleagues and peers.
A great way to help others is to add a spoken recording of your name to your email signature. There are lots of ways you could do this, but below is one method that should be fairly accessible for all members of our community.
- Record your name.
- If you already have an audio recording app on your computer or phone that you know how to use, use that!
- If not, here are some suggestions:
- On an iPhone: Use the built in "Voice Memos" app. Hit the record button, say your name slowly and clearly, and then hit stop. Click the share icon to email a copy of the audio file to yourself.
- On an Android Phone: This will vary a bit depending on the device, but the basic process should be the same. There should be a built in "Voice Recorder" or "Recorder" app. Hit the record button, say your name slowly and clearly, and then hit stop. Save the recording. Share the audio file with yourself in an email. (On some phones this is done by holding down the link to the audio file and then clicking on the share button that appears at the bottom of your screen.)
- On a computer: You can use Zoom to save a basic audio file. Once installed on your computer, click the Zoom icon and then start a new meeting (preferably without video, but this works with or without video). Make sure your microphone is unmuted. Hit the record button, say your name slowly and clearly within range of your computer microphone, then hit the button to stop recording. End the meeting. A folder should open automatically containing the log files from your meeting. (If this does not open automatically, you can often find the logs in your Documents folder and then in the Zoom folder there. The log files should be dated and timed based on when the meeting took place.) One of the files should have "audio_only" at the beginning. That is your audio recording. You can double click that icon to make sure you are happy with the recording.
- Save and share the file online.
- Upload the file to your Google Drive associated with the university. Right click on the file in Google Drive, and you can rename it if you would like.
- Right click on the file again in Google Drive, and select the "Share" link. Click on "Change link to University of Michigan". Click on the University of Michigan drop down menu that appears and change it to "Anyone with the link".
- Click "Copy Link" and then "Done".
- Link to the audio file.
- From your U-M Gmail page, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to enter your settings, and then click "See all settings". Scroll down until you see the "Signature" settings. Here, you can now add your linked audio file.
- As one possibility, after you type in your name, you could add a line that says "Name Pronunciation: Hear me say my name." Select "Hear me say my name" and click on the link icon (a paperclip looking icon) at the bottom of the text box. Paste your copied link into the url box and hit done.
- Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page and select to "Save Changes". You are done!
- NameShouts allows you to search for a name in over 20 languages and then hear that name pronounced by a native speaker at regular or slower speed. This is a free service for up to 50 name searches per month if you create an account. Paid options allow you to go beyond the 50 name limit per month.
- NPR has resources on how to pronounce the names of famous people, authors, politicians, athletes, or other public figures.
Here is a helpful guide to pronouncing Chinese names by Arizona State University. It contains recordings of common surnames and basic pronunciation helps.
Know of another great name pronunciation guide? Email Scott Riggs to have the site reviewed for sharing on this page.