Blog de Cristina

a new language means a new vision of life

Archive for January 20th, 2009

No more James Dean /james dean/

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under General, Listening
The problem with English names  is that you can never be sure how to pronounce them unless you have heard them before.
The thing is that I always find myself under great pressure when I have to figure out how to pronounce an English name. People assume that just because you have some knowledge of English you are supposed to know how to pronounce every single name they come across. What they don’t seem to know is that there are no pronunciation rules ,in English , you can rely on and  that there are lots of English personal and place names whose pronunciations are counter-intuitive to their spelling.
How are you supposed to guess that  a name such as Happisburgh, is pronounced /heizbr∂/, for God’s sake! I would  have never guessed it!
I remember some years ago I took a course in a place called Hastings (like the battle) in South West England . Before leaving for England I carefully checked how to pronounce the name   /heistinz/  but when I took  a taxi to take me to this vilage, to my dismay , the taxi driver pronounced the name as  /hi:stinz/  and then after some time in the village I realised that the name could be pronounced in several different ways.
Anyway, here is a list of film stars whose names are frequently mispronounced: no more James Dean  /james dean/,  if avoidable.
Fred Astaire
Richard Attenborough
Dan Aykroyd
Lauren Bacall
Sean Bean
Warren Beatty
Kenneth Branagh
Richard Burton
Sean Connery
Russell Crowe
Tom Cruise
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tonny Curtis
Matt Damon
Bette Davis
Daniel Day-Lewis

Johnny Depp
Kirk Douglas
Faye Dunnaway
Kirsten Dunst
Mia Farrow
Ralph Fiennes
Lawrence Fishburn
Clark Gable
Ava Gardner
Richard Gere
James Mason
Walter Matthau
Victor Mature
Ian Mckellen
Marilyn Monroe
Eddie Murphy
Bill Murray
Clive Owen
Gwyneth Paltrow

Sean Penn
Brad Pitt
Keanu Reeves
Susan Sarandon
Patrick Swayze
Charlize Theron
Sigourney Weaver
Mae West
Elijah Wood
Renée Zellweger
Adapted from Think
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