Episode Transcript

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we are going to talk about 10 challenging names to pronounce, if you are a non-native speaker of English. In this video, we’re going to talk about the names, how to pronounce them, and cool tips that are going to help you with pronunciation challenges, not just when it comes to pronouncing those names, but when it comes to speaking in general.

If you don’t know me yet, my name is Hadar, and I’m a non-native speaker of English. And I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, freedom, and joy. Yes, it is possible. And I invite you to come and say hi on Instagram. You can find me at @hadar.accentsway, where I share a lot of free tips and secrets, secrets, fun secrets.

Anyway, let’s get started with a first name. The first name is Arthur, Arthur. We have an R, we have a TH, we have a schwa – all of the good stuff in one name. Arthur. You start with R as in car, drop your jaw, round the lips just a bit. Keep the tongue down, don’t lift it up as you pronounce the ‘aa’ sound – ‘ar’ – and then lift the tongue up in the back until you hear the R sound.

Stick the tongue out for the TH, it’s a soft TH, just air. And then pull it back to the R. There is no ‘u’ sound, even though it’s spelled with a U, there is no U – ‘ar-thr’. It’s called a schwa, and you can learn more about it if you click the link in the show notes in the description. Arthur. Primary stress is on the first syllable – AR-thur.

The next name is Rory, Rory. Yes, more R’s. We start with an R sound, then it’s the ‘or’ as in four. So R, and then ‘aw’ – keep the tongue down. And then another R – round the lips, bring the tongue up and finish it up with a high E – pull the lips to the sides of it. ‘raw-ri’, ‘raw-ri’. One of the things that happens when we have an R, and then another vowel and an R is that we tend to keep the tongue up, and then the entire word sounds muffled, like ‘rory’, ‘rory’. Is this the case for you? Because if it is, let me know in the comments, I need to know about it. Okay?

So, and if it is the case, then the secret is to bring the tongue up for the R, bring it down for the vowel – ‘raw’ – it has to be down, and then bring it up again for the R – ‘raw-ri’. Rory. “I talked to Rory last night.” “Have you seen what happened to Rory?” Rory.

Then we have the name Cory. Cory is very similar, it rhymes with Rory. A little easier, cause we don’t have an R at the beginning. Start with a ‘k’ sound, then the ‘or’ as in four – ‘kor’. ‘kori’. “Cory and Rory are eating ice cream”. Cory and Rory. Cory and Rory.

The next name is Jonathan. Very common, but I do know that some people confuse this name, and I’ve been asked about this name in the past. So, Jonathan: it starts with a ‘j’ sound, that the ‘aa’ as in father – ‘jaa’. And then ‘nuh’ – and N sound and a schwa – not an ‘aa’ sound, but just a really reduced sound – ‘jaa-nuh’. And then ‘th+n’ –  no vowel in the middle – ‘thn’, ‘thn’, ‘thn’, right. It’s kind of like, you want to bring the tongue out for the TH and then pull it in really quickly for the N –  ‘thn’, ‘thn’, ‘thn’. ‘jaa-nuh-thn’. Jonathan. “I talked to Jonathan last night”. Jonathan.

The next name is Carl. In the first place I worked in New York City one of the owners was named Carl. And back then I wasn’t very much in control of all the sounds of English. And I remember that this name was so hard for me to pronounce. So I actually practiced it because I didn’t want to embarrass myself calling him for help: “Hey, I have a problem with a cash register, Car… Car-l”. He wouldn’t know I’m referring to him. So I had to practice saying this name again and again and again.

The reason why it’s so tricky is because there is an R sound, and then a dark L. And sometimes this combination is challenging for new speakers of English. So you start with a word “car” – ‘Kar’, and then you lift the tongue up for the R – ‘Kar’. Make sure the tip of the tongue doesn’t touch anything: ‘Kar’. And then as you pronounce the R sound, you want to create tension in the back for the dark L – ‘Karl’. That is the transition, just make sure that you’re giving the R enough time so it doesn’t move automatically to the L – ‘Kal’, but ‘Karl’. If it’s challenging, just practice this transition – R to L, R to L – ‘Karl’. Good.

The next name is Ethan. Ethan. This name has two syllables. The first syllable is ‘ee’ ‘ee’, like the beginning of the word “eat”. And then it’s a TH sound and an N – ‘thn’, ‘thn’ – just like ‘jaa-nuh-thn’, ‘thn’. ‘ee-thn’, ‘ee-thn’. Just make sure that you stick the tongue out for the TH and you relax it, so the air actually comes out as you pronounce the TH. Ethan.

The next name is Barbara. Barbara. This name has two syllables. The first syllable is ‘bar’, ‘bar’: start with a B sound, close your lips – ‘bar’. And then make sure that you don’t lift the tongue up too soon – again, not ‘Burbara’, but ‘bar’. And then the second syllable is ‘bruh’, ‘bruh’, ‘bruh’. It’s a B sound, an R – round your lips for the R, and a schwa sound – it’s a very neutral vowel sound – ‘bruh’, ‘bruh’, ‘bruh’. Not ‘braa’, but ‘bruh’. ‘bar-bruh’. Barbara. “I’ve got to call Barbara.” “Barbara, what’s going on?” “Barbara, I haven’t heard from you in so long.” “Barbara, where’s my fish?”

The next name is Aaron/Erin. Now this pronunciation is actually the pronunciation of two different names: a boy’s name – Aaron, Aaron, and a girl’s name – Erin. Erin. Yes, they’re a pronounced the same. The first syllable is ‘eh’, ‘eh’, and even something closer to an ‘uh’ sound. And then the second part is ‘rn’, ‘rn’ – an R sound, a schwa, and an N – ‘rn’. ‘eh-rn’, ‘eh-rn’.

The next name, and I love this name, is Joaquin, Joaquin. Because of the spelling it could be a little confusing, unless you’re a Spanish speaker and then it’s easy peasy for you. But generally, the J does not represent the ‘h’ sound. In this name it does. Joaquin. So you start with an H sound – ‘huwaa’, ‘huwaa’, close your lips, and then open it up for a W sound – ‘huwaa’. And then ‘keen’: a K sound, a high E, and an N – ‘huwaa-keen’.

The next name is Deidre. Deidre. The spelling can be a little confusing here, and this is how you pronounce that. You start with the syllable ‘deer’, ‘deer’, like “my dear”. And then the second syllable is ‘druh’, ‘druh’. ‘deer-druh’. Deidre.

Finally, we have this name – Siobhan. Now, this name is very common, but the spelling, again, could be deceiving if you’ve never heard this name before, or you’ve never associated the name with the spelling. And this is how you pronounce it. You start with ‘shi’, ‘shi’, like “ship”, ‘shi’. And then the next part is ‘vawn’, ‘vawn’ – a V sound, ‘aa’ as in father, or you can even round the lips a little bit, and then an N – ‘vawn’. ‘shi-vawn’. Siobhan.

Okay, that’s it. These are the 10 names that are sometimes challenging for non-native speakers to pronounce. Can you think of other names that are challenging to pronounce? If so, put them in the comments below.

And if you like this video, consider liking it, sharing it and subscribing, if you haven’t subscribed yet. And if you’d like to know how you too can become more confident and clear when speaking, check out my website, cause it has a ton of free resources that are designed to help you get to where you want to be.

That’s it. Thank you so, so much for being here with me. And remember, don’t worry about pronunciation mistakes, because you know what I always say: mistakes is really the only way to learn.

Thank you so much. And I’ll see you in the next video. Bye.