Monday, October 17, 2011

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Phonetics - Maggie Gyllenhaal, how do you pronounce that?

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Photo from Wikipedia)
One of my favourite actresses is Maggie Gyllenhaal.  She chooses some really interesting movies to be in and characters to play.

I was visiting my parents recently and they like her movies as well and during a conversation we had a question, “Actually, how do you pronounce her surname?”  We see it all the time in movies, on DVD boxes, etc... but we didn’t really know how to pronounce it.

My solution – Wikipedia!  The article displays the phonetic spelling of her surname: /ˈdʒɪlənhɔːl/

The /dʒ/ like the beginning of the word ‘jeans’.

The /ɪl / like we say the word ‘ill’, a synonym for sick.

The /ən/ with the /ə/ sound, the neutral sound that is everywhere in the English language.  Often in literature you will see this work ‘Uh’ which is just a sound that we use to show that we are thinking and need more time to think in a conversation.

The /hɔːl/ like the word ‘hall’ or similar to /hɔːs/ like the word ‘horse’.

So there is her surname.  Gyllenhaal = /ˈdʒɪlənhɔːl/.  I'm a native English speaker and the fastest way I found to get the pronunciation was by using the phonetics.  They can be useful for everyone.

Take a look at this interactive phonetic chart from Macmillan publishing to help you understand phonetics better.  I also recommend taking another look at this excellent short video that explains the phonetic chart.


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