Esperanto at Stanford University

Pronunciation for "Americans"

Classes at Stanford > Reference Material > Lessons > Pronunciation > Pronunciation for "Americans"

Esperanto Pronunciation
Help for US English speakers

As an "American" myself ("American" is what people from the USA call themselves, despite the millions of other people who live in the Americas - North America and South America) and as someone teaching this for over two decades, i have seen some patterns that are common to US English speakers.

Here is a list of Esperanto words that are also perfectly good English words. What i have noticed is that, at least for English speakers, students of Esperanto do not have much trouble pronouncing words when they immediately seem "foreign" looking. But when they start off looking like a familiar word, their minds will switch into the familiar pronunciation of their native language. So, i've made this list for practicing pronunciation of what looks like English words. NOTE that not a single one of these words should sound anything like California English (maybe they sound like British or Australian or some other English i'm not familiar with). Try to get your mind into an Esperanto mode and read these words - by columns so you don't run into words that are very similar, as you would by row:

al
bane
bare
blue
brake
dance
divide
do
fame
glue
gusto
hare
have
idea
image
invite
jam
jen
june
lace
lame
lite
literature
male
mane
mare
minus
minute
mole
move
note
nun
nature
opinion
ore
pace
page
pane
para
penis
per
pike
plane
plume
plus
police
pro
pete
pure
radio
range
religion
ride
rule
sale
same
sane
sate
save
science
side
simile
simple
sole
solve
spice
stare
strange
sub
table
time
tire
trove
vera
vice
vine
vole

fido

How'd you do? If it sounded like English then you need to practice some more. If you are from the USA then you should read the list again. This time OPEN your mouth A LOT and use your lips A LOT! This should get you much closer to the sounds. Maybe flash cards would be good for practicing these? Again, come to class to hear AND SEE how they are pronounced.

There are also combinations of letters that are not usually put together in US English. Try reading these sentences normally. Then read them again very precisely, without slowing down.

The birds in the nests see us.
The black van stopped in front of the brick, vine-covered wall.

US English speakers should have no problem reading these sentences and sounding normal. In Esperanto we often have the letters "sc" and "kv" next to each other, which is unusual in English. As you saw when reading the above sentences, it's not that you can not pronounce those letters, one after the other, but that it is not usual. So, try to pronounce these Esperanto words again, knowing that you can indeed do it:

scias kvar kvin

Practice makes perfect.

By the way, here is the "Alphabet Song" as sung in class (same tune as for English):

A Bo Co Cxo Do E Fo
Go Gxo Ho Hxo I Jo Jxo
Ko Lo Mo No O Po Ro
So Sxo To U Uxo Vo Zo
Es-pe-rant-o al-fa-bet'
Nun ek-ler-nu gra-ma-tik - on!



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