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How to pronounce word that do not exist Options
.vess.
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 1:59:37 PM
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Could you provide transcription for Cyferus, please?
thar
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 3:20:50 PM

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edit - not sure what you mean by transcription - it is in the Latin alphabet.


For any unknown word, unless you know which language it comes from (in which case you can apply those rules) you can guess by applying the standard English rules:
c is soft before i,e,y
y as an initial vowel is usually long (by, tyrant, cylon)
so cy as in Cyprus (sigh)

fer as in fertile, but as an unstressed syllable not a strong fer sound, like inference.

us as in -ous, like generous, just a bit shorter. But not a short 'us'.
Because this is a -us, which looks like a Latin ending, I would not stress that syllable.
The question is whether to stress the first or second syllable. In the absense of any other indications, I would go with the first because it sounds like 'cypherous'. Which is not a good reason, but in the absence of any other reasons, it is as good as any. It is all about picking a pattern to copy. Whistle

The thing is, you just can't tell. If there is a clue to the original language (eg Norman French, Old English (Germanic), Latin, Greek, something else) that may help, but a word may have been anglicised and lost that original pronunciation.

It is just like words that do exist. How do you pronounce sow or bow or record? It depends whether it is a verb or a noun, and which word you mean.
That is how I would pronounce cyferus. But someone else might decide to say Kiffairuss or saifeerus.
There are English surnames that native English speakers don't know how to pronounce if they haven't heard them before. Words you can make a good guess at, but there is no guarantee you will be right.

It is probably easy to go through life pronouncing an word incorrectly, having made a reasonable but 'incorrect' guess. Either you never say it aloud to people, or if you do they don't know the word; and maybe they do, but are too polite to correct you.
Islami
Posted: Saturday, April 4, 2020 10:22:00 AM
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Hello, Welcome to TFD.

Not a clear post.Need elaboration.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2020 12:48:29 AM

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I have this problem regularly (as I read a lot of "Science-Fiction and Fantasy" novels).

As thar says, there are no RULES - some authors include an appendix, explaining their pronunciation ideas.

Personally, I'd pronounce it differently than thar would.

"Cy" like "cyclamen" - like the first bit of "sin" or "sit".
"fe" would be unstressed, so a schwa sound only.
"rus" would be like "Russia" or "rustic".

If it's in a stressed position in the sentences - /'sɪ fə ˌrʊs/ - SIferus
If unstressed, /'sɪ fə ˌrəs/ - SIferəs

But the writer might have thought "kie FER ous". Who knows?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2020 11:40:10 PM

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It's too late now to edit that reply, but I thought of something which would influence my pronunciation - I associated "Cyferus" in some way with Sisyphus, King of Ephyria in Greek myth.

I didn't consciously think of it, but the association was there.
tautophile
Posted: Monday, April 6, 2020 1:00:14 PM
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I would pronounce Cyferus as /SY-fer-us/. How the author of the name--I assume it's the name of a character in a story--would pronounce it, I don't know.

Pronunciation of names can vary markedly from language to language. Gaius Julius Caesar would have pronounced his name rather like /GUY-oos YOU-lee-oos kai-sar/ but we say /GAY-us DZhU-lee-us SEE-zer/ in English. Or consider Cyrus the king of Persia (c. 6th century BCE). We call him /SY-russ/ but he would have called himself /ku-raush/. In modern Persian he is Kourosh. The Greeks called him Kyros; in Hebrew he is Koresh. The name "Jean" is /dzheen/ in English but rather like /zhawn/ in French.
TMe
Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 10:21:08 AM

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The pronunciation of any word not found in the English Dictionary should be as per the rules of that language in which it is written. Abraham, in English, is written and pronounced differently while it is written as Ibrahim and pronounced EBRAHEEM in Urdu. The origin, text and language are important to know the pronunciation.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 11:22:50 AM

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But it is not always so simple. A few of the words you may meet in English are 'made up' and don't appear in any dictionary or encyclopedia. - Jabberwocky
Drago mentioned sci-fi/ fantasy, and Jigneshbharati has met this in children's books. Then you just need to make a best guess! People even pronounce their own English names differently from each other, so sometimes you have to ask how they say it.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 11:30:05 AM
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Keep in mind that different kinds of English use different kinds of STRESS.

On the whole...(obviously, like everything to do with language, there will be exceptions) AE tends to pronounce the SECOND syllable (lab-OR-a-tree), while BE tends to stress the FIRST syllable (LAB-r'-tree), while Australian English of (place-names, native species of flora & fauna etc.) stress the LAST syllable.(kan-gar-OO).

So this is something else which affects the way different English-speakers would pronounce an unknown word,too.

ps. I, like Drago's 'second thought' unconsciously patterned my pronunciation on the word 'Sisyphus' while consciously wondering why that sounded so right and familiar!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 10:11:25 AM

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Hi Romany!

Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 11:53:35 AM

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Oh, golly, sometimes even the "experts" are wrong.

This-- AE tends to pronounce the SECOND syllable (lab-OR-a-tree), while BE tends to stress the FIRST syllable (LAB-r'-tree),...
By default, using AE, your best guess is to place the primary stress on the FIRST syllable of a word you are uncertain of.
If the sample word is "laboratory", then in AE, the primary stress in on the FIRST syllable. And the word 4 syllables, not 3.

AE pronounces the word like this: (lăb′rə-tôr′ē)

I wouldn't be so bold as to tell you the rules followed by BE speakers.
Romany
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 12:20:01 PM
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tautophile
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 3:59:13 PM
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Wilmar is right: "laboratory" is pronounced "LAB-ra-tory" in AmE, not "LAB-ra-tree" or "la-BOR-a-tory".
Audiendus
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 7:56:41 PM
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It's "la-BOR-a-tory" in BE.
palapaguy
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020 8:05:21 PM

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tautophile wrote:
Wilmar is right: "laboratory" is pronounced "LAB-ra-tory" in AmE, not "LAB-ra-tree" or "la-BOR-a-tory".

Agree.

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2020 5:18:50 AM

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Oh dear.
I think that was an unfortunate choice of examples!

I've heard "laboratory" in at least six different pronunciations (excluding simple regional accents) in Britain. According to my dictionary, it's British pronunciation is FIVE syllables! /'læb-ˌbɒ-rə-tɔː-rɪ/ (American is four - /'læb-brə-tə-rɪ/

It's usually pronounced /læb/ - "lab".
Romany
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2020 6:27:13 AM
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Drago - you're right: that was a most unfortunate example to give, it would appear! It was based on an article which gave the pronunciation in Standard American. But which I hadn't saved to refer to again. As happens in most countries, there are heaps of regional difference in pronunciation so a "standard" has to be arrived at. Just as English schools teach a "standard English" comprised of BE, AE forms.

Though the example given might not have met with agreement, the point I was making about different languages having different STRESS(not pronunciation)is still a valid consideration when discussing how different English speakers would pronounce something. Which is why I then, without comment, posted a full expansion of what I was making the point about and how different accents - Regional or Standard - influence pronunciation.


And, let me stress once more: - this has nothing to do with my PERSONAL thoughts about how language works. I have made my own conclusions based on the experience of living in multiple different English-speaking countries. But the information I put forward is NOT (unless I make a point of presenting it as a personal opiion) tied to any 'beliefs', but to linguistic facts.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2020 11:19:33 AM

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You made me think of the Beverley Hillbillies, with the "CEE-ment pond" (cement swimming pool) and their cousin in the POlis.
.vess.
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2020 1:23:51 PM
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Thank you very much
Romany
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2020 4:18:37 PM
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Uh-huh. While a-strummin' on their gee-tars.
Eoin Riedy
Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2020 3:47:58 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
It's too late now to edit that reply, but I thought of something which would influence my pronunciation - I associated "Cyferus" in some way with Sisyphus, King of Ephyria in Greek myth.

I thought of vociferous and syphilis.

Wilmar (USA) 1M wrote:
AE pronounces the word like this: (lăb′rə-tôr′ē)

Unless the speaker is a mad scientist. Mad scientists have a "la-BOR-a-tory". It's in their union rules.
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