I’m on Lexicon Valley talking about why linguists tend to be good at pronouncing words in other languages (and no, it’s not because we speak all of them).
People who speak languages other than English are sometimes impressed by how well I and other linguists pronounce words or names in their language, even if we don’t speak a word of it. But it’s not magic: Here are seven basic principles that linguists use to fake-pronounce foreign languages but that anyone can apply. They won’t make you sound completely fluent, but you’ll sound a lot better than the average English speaker.
1. Pronounce ALL the letters. English (and a few other languages like French and Gaelic) often has silent letters at the ends of words, but most languages don’t. Unless you know you’re dealing with one of the silent-letter languages, you should pronounce that “e” or “h” at the end of the word and all the other letters too. (Read the rest.)
Technically, this is a cross-post from myself, but since it’s an expanded version of a post that I wrote in my first month of blogging ever, you probably haven’t seen it before. It was shockingly popular at the time though, considering I only had a handful of followers.
If you’re inspired by tip #7 to take up the IPA, you may find this post on vowels and this post on sonority/manner of articulation helpful. If you’re more into learning languages for reals than faking them (not that these tips are inconsistent with real learning, actually), I’ve got quite a lot in my language learning tag.