Could you please tell me how to pronounce a name (interpreted from other languages) for the first time you see it? In English I find it difficult to do so because of the flexible pronunciation of letters and different stress on syllables. For example, like the name Powhatan (I see it in a story).

  • FWIW, Wikipedia gives two options: /paʊhəˈtæn/ or /paʊˈhætən/.
    – The Photon
    Mar 24, 2020 at 2:11
  • Even native speakers don't always know, unless the writer provides a pronunciation guide. Mar 24, 2020 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


Ask a person how their name is pronounced if you're not sure.

Simply put, names are one of those areas where words are imported into English from many different languages and are often simply transliterated, and may not follow standard English pronunciation rules. Additionally, there are some individuals who give their children "unique" names with unpredictable pronunciations. As such, if you see a person's name and you're not sure how to pronounce it, the best thing to do is simply to ask how it's pronounced.

If you're reading a book and you're not sure how a character's name is pronounced, just use standard English pronunciation in your head, but be aware that you might be wrong, especially if it's a "foreign" name.

  • Agreed. English has no rules/ guidelines for pronouncing names. Names are pronounced the way the person does.
    – Void
    Mar 24, 2020 at 8:29

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