The Imperial Orb Pronunciation Rules

Pronunciation Rules

Where appropriate, and when we have time, we provide phonetic pronunciations, bracketed in slashes. They are to be interpreted using the following conventions:

The pronunciation example words are all from English, and are based on middle-american dialects. We hope to eventually identify the exact sound meant using IPA, and probably link to somewhere that has sound clips of the IPA sounds. On the other hand, we have sound clips of Steven pronouncing many of the words; if you're having trouble figuring out our notation, and there's a sound clip, that's your easiest solution!


Syllables are hyphen-separated, and an apostrophe (‘ ' ’) or double-quote (‘ " ’) precedes each accented syllable (the double-quote marks a secondary accent).


Consonants are generally pronounced as in American English.

/g/hard (as in “got” rather than “giant”)
/j/the sound that occurs twice in “judge
/ch/soft, as in “church” rather than “chemist
/s/always as in “pass”, never a z sound
/zh/the si in “vision” and the z in “azure
/kh/the guttural of “loch” or “l'chaim
/th/as in “thistle”
/dh/as in “that”, “them”


Vowels are represented as follows:

/a/ back, that
/ah/ father, palm (see note)
/ar/ far, mark
/aw/ flaw, caught
/ay/ bake, rain
/air/their, software, hairy
/e/ less, men
/ee/ easy, ski
/@r/ fur, earn, mermaid
/err/merry, berry, ferry
/arr/marry, tarry, harry
/i/ trip, hit
/i:/ life, sky
/o/ block, stock (see note)
/oh/ flow, sew
/oo/ loot, through
/or/ more, door
/ow/ out, how
/oy/ boy, coin
/uh/ but, some
/û/ put, foot
/y/ yet, young
/yoo/few, chew
/[y]oo//oo/ with optional fronting as in ‘news’ (/nooz/ or /nyooz/)
/@/"schwa"; the sound of unstressed or occluded vowels

The schwa vowel is omitted in syllables containing vocalic r, l, m or n; that is, ‘kitten’ and ‘color’ would be rendered /kit'n/ and /kuhl'r/, not /kit'@n/ and /kuhl'@r/.


Note that the above table reflects mainly distinctions found in standard American English (that is, the neutral dialect spoken by TV network announcers and typical of educated speech in the Upper Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Philadelphia). However, we separate /o/ from /ah/, which tend to merge in standard American. This may help readers accustomed to accents resembling British Received Pronunciation.

The intent of this scheme is to permit as many readers as possible to map the pronunciations into their local dialect by ignoring some subset of the distinctions we make. Speakers of British RP, for example, can smash terminal /r/ and all unstressed vowels. Speakers of many varieties of southern American will automatically map /o/ to /aw/; and so forth. (Standard American makes a good reference dialect for this purpose because it has crisp consonants and more vowel distinctions than other major dialects, and tends to retain distinctions between unstressed vowels. It also happens to be what your editor speaks. [Both the original one, and the one who modified this scheme for])

This pronunciation scheme is based on the one developed and released into the public domain for the jargon file. Thanks to Eric S. Raymond and the others involved for making this available!

On the other hand, we've changed it some to match our needs, so if you don't like it, blame us, not them. The final form displayed here was set by David Dyer-Bennet, with much help from Mark A. Mandel (including frantic efforts to talk me out of various stupid ideas). The remaining stupid ideas are my fault.

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