Fourth European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Madrid, Spain
September 18-21, 1995

The Pronunciation of Unfamiliar Native and Non-Native Town Names

Susan Fitt

Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

This paper will discuss pronunciations of unfamiliar names, both British and foreign, by native speakers of English. Most studies which look at peoples' pronunciations of unfamiliar or pseudowords are based on English word-patterns, rather than a cross-language selection, while algorithms for determining the pronunciation of names from a variety of languages do not necessarily tell us how real people behave in such a situation. This paper shows that subjects may use different systems or sub-systems of rules to pronounce unknown names which they perceive to be non-native. If we wish to model human behaviour in novel word pronunciation, we need to take into account the fact that, while native speakers are not experts in all foreign languages, neither are they linguistically naive.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Fitt, Susan (1995): "The pronunciation of unfamiliar native and non-native town names", In EUROSPEECH-1995, 2227-2230.