Rachel's English

How to Pronounce Common Last Names (2/2)


This is the second half of the 20 most popular last names in America. Number 11: Anderson.Anderson begins with the word 'and'. In IPA the word 'and' is spelled with the 'aa' as in 'bat' sound, but I find that it, and here in Anderson, the aa is not quite as sharp, the mouth doesn't open quite as wide for the sound. Anderson, and. Now, the second two syllables are unaccented, and again, they kind of slide by without pure vowels: An-der-son. 

Number 12: Thomas. Spelled with a 'th', but pronounced as a tt, T. Thomas, Thomas. With the 'aw' as in 'law' vowel.

Number 13: Jackson. Now this one does have a very pure 'aa' as in 'bat'. Jaa-jack-sn.

Number 14: White. Just like number 5, Brown, the name of a color. White. Your lips have to start very small, in that little circle, to make the proper W sound. White, 'ai' as in 'buy', White.

Number 15: Harris. Harris starts with an H, which I know for some speakers, particularly people whose native language is French, the H can be a difficult sound. H-h-h. The next letter, A, is followed by an R, and that R does change the color of the A. It becomes an 'er' as in 'bare'. Harris. Now, the second, and unaccented syllable here, actually does take on an 'ih' as in 'sit' vowel. It's not one of these unaccented syllables that has no pure vowel. Harris. Ih-ih-'ih' as in 'sit' - Harris.

Number 16: Martin. This starts with an M, which opens up into the 'ah' as in 'father', which transforms rather quickly into the 'r' as in 'run'. Mar-, Mar-. The next letter is a T. However, it is not pronounced as a tt or really a dd, which it sometimes is. Rather, it's function is more as a stop. Mart-. So the tongue comes up into the position for the D, which is, this part of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth here, behind the teeth. Mart-in. And then your tongue is pretty much in position for the nn consonant sound. Martin. Maar-in. Martin. So you can see here the T is not really pronounced, but rather acts as a stop.

Number 17: Thompson. Just like Thomas, it is spelled with a T-H, but pronounced tt. Thompson. It has the 'aw' as in 'law' into the mm-pp-sn, sn. Again, the unaccented syllable not having much of a pure vowel. Thompson.

Number 18: Garcia. This is the first of the Spanish-language names. If your native language is Spanish, you should, of course, pronounce it as you would. However, these names have been Americanized, and take on the American pronunciation when non-native speakers are saying these names. Garcia. Gar- starts the same way as Mar- as in Martin. The gg goes into a very quick 'ah' as in 'father' which then very quickly slides into the 'r' as in 'run'. Gar-ci-a. Garcia. So the second syllable is emphasized, the C is pronounced as a ss, and the I has that sharp 'ee' as in 'she' sound, then tapering off into the schwa. Garcia.

Number 19, another Spanish name, Martinez. Again, we've got this 'ar' sound in the first syllable: Mar-, Martinez. Again, it is the middle syllable that's emphasized and so it does have a sharp 'ee' as in 'she' sound. Martinez. Ez. The 'eh' as in 'bed' closing off into the voiced zz sound. Martinez.

Number 20: Robinson. The vowel in the first syllable, 'aw' as in 'law', Robinson, and the second two unaccented syllables, again, not having much of a pure vowel. Ro-bn-sn: going more into the N than having a vowel on its own. Ronbinson.Those are the 20 most common last names in the United States. 

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