Information Technology Dark Side

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How to Pronounce Indian Names

August 8th, 2006 · 84 Comments

One of my personal little trials in life is that my last name is difficult to pronounce. I grew up in Texas, where my name was abused tremendously. It only makes matters worse that my family uses an unusual pronounciation of Christiansen: Kris TEE ann sen (not Kris chen sen). I can’t tell you how many times someone thought my name was David Chris Jansen.

At any rate, I’ve gotten over the fact that many people can’t say my name. I’ve also learned to appreciate the efforts of those who have bothered to learn how to say it, and I’ve developed a habit of learning how to spell and pronounce the names of others, even if they’re difficult.

I think it is particularly shameful that many IT professionals have a difficult time remembering and pronouncing the names of their colleagues from India. It’s going to become more important in the next decade that IT workers become skilled at collaborating with professionals from India, and this of necessity begins with names.

If you can’t pronounce Indian names with ease, it’s going to be very difficult to remember them. I am going to offer a few simple rules about pronouncing these often long and unusual names that I have gleaned over the years.

First Rule: Indian names are generally broken up in consonant/vowel pairs, which are ALWAYS pronounced the same.

For example, Srinivas is three sounds: Sri ni vas. Mallavarapu is five sounds: Ma lla va ra pu. It’s easier to remember names if you think of them in terms of the sounds and not the letters. This is particularly true of the really long names, like Venkataramana.

Second Rule Vowel sounds are pretty much always pronounced the same. Ma is always pronounced mah (like mama). Va is always pronounced vah. In fact, the vowel “A” is always pronounced “ah”, the soft a. I’ve never seen an Indian name where “A” was pronounced like “Hay” or “Pal”. It’s always “ahh”, like the sound you make at the doctor’s office. Here are the pronounciations of all the vowels:
a: ahh
i: ee
e: eh
o: oh (rhymes with NO)
oo: long ooh
u: short ooh

This should get you through 90% of the difficult names you’ll encounter.

Third Rule When you meet an Indian colleague for the first time, repeat their name and ask them if you pronounced it right. Keep saying it until they approve.

Fourth Rule If you can figure out how to pronounce “th” right, post it here! I can not get that right!

Fifth Rule Not so much a rule as it is an observation. A lot of Indian names are really re-usable components (I wonder if this contributes to their growing prevalence in IT???). Here are some examples:

  • Srini
  • Srinivas
  • Srinivasan
  • Venkat
  • Venkata
  • Venkataraman
  • Venkataramana
  • Don’t ask me what all these mean, because I don’t know. The thing is, if your observant about the components that Indian names are made of, you will discover that even really long names become easier to pronounce because they are just combinations of components you are already familiar with.

    Having once lived in a foreign land for an extended period of time, I quickly learned to appreciate the efforts that others made to learn to pronounce my name. Even though I never met a Japanese person who could say Christiansen, I knew several who came pretty close. And I liked them very much.

    Our Indian colleagues are no different. I have observed that my efforts to learn the spellings and pronounciation of the Indians in my office have contributed to a more collegial relationship that makes it easier to work together effectively.

    Note: These “rules” are based entirely on my own observations. I’ve NEVER studied the Indian language, formally or otherwise. If you have, and I’ve got it wrong PLEASE post a correction. If no one else does, I will definitely appreciate it. Additionally, dialects vary widely by region in India, and my particular observations may not cover all regions. As far as I can tell, most of my Indian buddies are from the southern regions of India.

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    84 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Just Mohit // Aug 9, 2006 at 9:57 am

      Hi Dave,
      Good article. I think all advice boils down to this: Ask the person to pronounce their own name slowly & clearly, and repeat it till you get it approx. right.
      Also, it doesn\’t matter if you can\’t get it right. The person will appreciate the effort. We indians know that most anglo-saxons have a problem pronouncing the soft \”t\” for example (unlike for example the french).
      Also, i think you got the \”oo\” & \”u\” sounds mixed up. The latter is the short ooh!
      Regards

      Thanks Mohit! I\’ve corrected it – it should read correctly now.
      - dave

    • 2 Rohit Sood // Aug 14, 2006 at 9:21 pm

      Interesting article/angle – I was expecting a funny mockery of the names/pronounciation etc. Surprisingly I find a tutorial on how to pronounce Indian names. Fresh.

      When people don’t take the time to pronounce the name (or don’t try to), it is mildly condescending. Mutual respect and collegial relationships at work and outside, start from taking an active interest in the other person. Straight from Dale Carnegie “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”. Starting with learning their names (Indian, or otherwise) is a great first step.

      I still am amused at the “pattern recognition” you have applied. Nice job.

    • 3 Saurabh Palkar ( Sou-rub Paal-kur) // Sep 12, 2006 at 4:25 pm

      Dave,
      How to make the “th” sound.
      i) Observe :-
      Try to make the ‘T’ (golf tee) sound, notice that in order to do so, you make your toungue ( tongue) go behind your (upper) teeth and make the sound when exactly at the time your toungue leaves that position.
      ii) Repeat with a little modification.
      To add that little ‘h’ sound into the ‘T’, do the following,
      Hold your toungue in between the 2 rows of teeth. ( i.e. in your teeth ) so that it just barely peeps out… Now again try to make the same T sound, and you might end up saying ‘Thee’ .
      iii) The ‘th’ sound…. Just like in ii) try to say ‘Tuh’ by holding your toungue inbetween your teeth and it shal most definitely sound like th

      Dont bite your toungue too hard….

      Do let me know, if you are successfull….

      regards,
      Saurabh

    • 4 dave // Sep 17, 2006 at 6:40 am

      Thanks Saurabh. I think I can say “th” reasonably well now, all by itself. Who knows if I’ll be able to mix in names with much skill. I was never able to say the “th” in Boopathy.

    • 5 Information Technology Dark Side » Blog Archive » How to Pronounce Indian Names: Part 2 // Oct 22, 2006 at 6:20 pm

      [...] Following up on a previous blog, how to pronounce Indian names: I found a great explanation of how to pronounce Indian names that covers some areas I missed. And, to make it even better, the author of the site (Chad Fowler), is also a Rails advocate. More power to him! Here’s a link to his post about Indian names. [...]

    • 6 Alice // Dec 6, 2006 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for the help! I was just about to stop by my neighborhood Indian restaurant and ask for assistance: I need to read (aloud, on the radio!) Rachel Manijah Brown’s book ALL THE FISHES COME HOME TO ROOST…and I needed some help.

    • 7 Chris // Apr 7, 2007 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you very much for posting this, I am an assistant Front Office Manager at a hotel and have become accustomed to the pronounciation of difficult last names. With your help and time spent publishing this, I can relay this to the staff at the property to make our guests feel like they are at home. THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER!

    • 8 dave // Apr 7, 2007 at 5:31 pm

      You’re welcome – I’m glad this is a useful post.

    • 9 Rachel // May 14, 2007 at 4:15 pm

      Hello. Thanks so much for your post and for your help. I appreciate people who are so conscientious . (My maiden name was Proelss and I grew up in Alabama, so I relate to your story.)

      I work for a basic research lab and we just invited two researchers into the lab who are from India, and have had others in the past. My main problem is on which syllable does one place emphasis? I have asked each of them already, but find it difficult to remember and just want to learn the rule if there is one. For instance, Sandhiya placed the emphasis on the first syllable of her name, but I don’t think Tuhin does this. I am not sure about Ashani. Do you know of any set rule for this? Thanks for your time.

    • 10 Swaroop // Oct 10, 2008 at 11:51 am

      Good work!

      The ‘th’ sound is very much like the th in ‘thin’. The closest pronunciation symbol in English would just be ‘th’ as of Merriam Webster. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/pronsymbols.html)

      Another common slip up is to pronounce the J in ‘Raj’, as a soft j (‘zh’) like ‘Beijing’ is commonly mispronounced. Both Beijing and Raj have the regular J as in Jam.

      If you see a ‘dh’ it’s pronounced not as the ‘d’ in doll, but how ‘th’ is pronounced in ‘them’, which as per Mer-Web is ‘th’ in italics.

      In English, ‘yellow’ might be pronounced almost as though the extra l wasnt needed. Same goes for Jennifer. But when you see double consonants in an Indian name, the letters are usually to be separated by a split second pause.
      Buddha = bud – dha .
      Khanna = Kan-na.
      Mallavarapu = Mal-la va ra pu

    • 11 Catherine // Oct 26, 2008 at 6:42 am

      Can you send me the Native American name for Christopher

    • 12 David Christiansen // Oct 26, 2008 at 9:30 am

      In this post Indian = folks from India, not Native Americans. Sorry.

    • 13 Matt Jones // Dec 9, 2008 at 11:13 am

      Very good tips. I am having trouble pronouncing the soft ‘t’. I am looking to pronounce correctly the name Nitin.

    • 14 Jami // Feb 15, 2009 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you so much for posting this! Very helpful.

    • 15 Sandesh // Feb 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm

      Hi David,

      Great article, something that I was actually looking for. I'm looking at writing my Indian name and surname in a way that it can be pronounced correctly by colleagues. My name is 'Sandesh', in which the 'san' is to be pronounced like the English words 'sun' or 'son' whereas the 'd' is pronounced like the 'th' sound in the word 'the'. My last name is 'Kale' which is to be pronounced 'Kaa-ley'. I believe the 'ley' pronunciation can be obtained by using an acute accent over the letter 'e'. Also this might be asking too much because even a lot of Indians have trouble pronouncing this. The 'l' in 'Kale' is a heavy 'l' not sure if I know of a word in English that has that sound. Can you please suggest diacritical marks to ease pronunciation for anyone reading my name? I woudn't like to change the spelling.

      Regards,

      Sandesh

    • 16 JGo // Feb 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm

      How would you pronounce Sriniva?

      Thanks in advance

    • 17 davidray // Feb 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm

      sree NEE vah is how I've heard it.

    • 18 Sandesh // Feb 17, 2009 at 10:12 pm

      Hi David,

      Any ideas on my previous post?

      Sandesh

    • 19 davidray // Feb 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Sandesh,
      I'm afraid I'm not the right person to give you advice on this, other than to suggest you develop a very friendly tolerance for mispronunciation. I wouldn't change the spelling of your name though – just find nice ways to teach people how to say it.

      Sorry I can't be of more help.

      Dave

    • 20 Sandesh // Feb 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm

      That's all right David. I believe I have developed, as you put it, a friendly tolerance for mispronunciation :) . Maybe the more people try to keep their original names, the easier it will be for people around them to know how to pronounce them. For example, I know that a name of Spanish origin like Jose is pronounced Hosey.

    • 21 Sandesh // Apr 24, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      Doesn't the name mean a short rainbow?

    • 22 Emma // May 4, 2009 at 9:21 am

      How do you say Jemma in Indian launguage?

    • 23 Sandesh // May 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

      As far as I am aware the name Jemma isn't of Indian (South Asian) origin. I believe Jemma is of English origin and can be pronounced JEM-ah.

    • 24 Sanjay (Sun - Jay) // May 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

      Try saying – "THE only way"
      Where THE is pronounced like DEE
      Notice how the tongue is flat on the palate.
      Switch between DEE, and the tee sound you are looking for (uttering TEE with the same flat against palate effort.

    • 25 Rita // May 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

      Having recently visited the cliff dwellings, I am trying to find the proper way to pronouce "Sipapu." Yours is the only website where I have found I might have a chance to learn.

      I had thought it to be … Sip-Pah-Poo with all three syllables having no specific emphasis but have been told that is incorrect. That person said it is …. SEE Pah Poo with the emphasis on the first syllable.

      Do you know the correct pronounciation?

      Thanks for your help.

    • 26 L. Sadagopan // Jun 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

      FYI, I think the A in Indian names is more correctly pronounced as uh instead of ah. That is my experience with South Indian names at least.

    • 27 bilva // Jul 14, 2009 at 5:44 am

      that would be Nih-thin

      you dont exactly break it into 2 syllables, but I wrote it thus so you know the emphasis on th as 'thin' or 'thimble'. What has happened over time is a little amount of home productions, in a manner of speaking. Both Hindi and Sanskrit from wch most Indian languages derive, have a soft sound and a hard sound for: buh, bhuh; thuh, thhuh; kuh, khuh… duh, dduh… it is difficult to tranliterate into english most words. But the 't' sound as in 'table' is almost absent in ordinary parlance; so if I wrote 'nithin' the chaste Indian wd protest that the 'th' sound is the soft one not the hard one, hence no ''h' pls… that is how nithin as it is spoken became nitin…but if you ignored all this drivel, you simply say ni-thin and you will be right, because there is no hard thhuh sound anywhere else in the world. Only in India.

    • 28 Suhasini Ravi // Aug 6, 2009 at 8:43 pm

      I think this is a brilliant post! I just would like to mention here to other readers that, expecting David, here, to provide pronunciation for the million indian (South and North) names is not possible and he has himself learnt this from observation to ease and enhance his way of pronouncing Indian names. I can understand people from non-Indian background askign questions about various names, but it would be nice if Indians wouldn't post asking about including every name and every nuance of pronunciation to be added here.

      @ David – Thank you for this article. I used to explain to all my colleagues about the consonant/vowel pairs and most people found it easy after that. Now that I found this link, I'll refrain from explaining and just send them the link :)

    • 29 davidray // Aug 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm

      Awesome! Glad to be of help. I wrote this post years ago, but it continues to be one of my most popular.

    • 30 Jason // Aug 13, 2009 at 8:23 pm

      Great post. It's handy and memorable. Thanks.

    • 31 guest // Aug 17, 2009 at 3:54 am

      Wonderful post ! I'm an Indian working in the US, and was delighted to see you making an effort to pronounce our names correctly! Some of my colleagues just say " Do you mind if I call you <some approximate abbreviation of my name> ". I just grin and say "Oh well…"

    • 32 Vishy Venugopalan // Aug 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

      David, fantastic post that'll be immediately useful to most non-Indians looking for some help pronouncing Indian names. I should also commend you on noticing patterns and making some very smart observations from a limited data set. Finally, it's good to see someone make the effort to get a difficult name right.

      Great points on the syllabic nature of Indian names (CVCVCV) and the reusable components. South Indian names are broadly speaking more modular in this respect, i.e. with more readily recognizable reusable components, than names from other parts of India. There is no shortage of South Indians in IT. The reusable components are very frequently drawn from the following list: Krishna, Rama, Ramana, Gopala, Shiva, Venkata, Raja. Also, a lot of South Indian last names end in -an.

      As for the -th or -dh sounds, I'd say in the interest of an 80-20 solution, don't sweat it ;) Just grokking the syllabic nature of names, combined with even stress patterns (i.e. each syllable is emphasized to the same degree) will take you most of the way.

      But for A+-level work rather than just A-level work, learn to pronounce p t k etc without the initial aspiration that American English normally adds (if you want to hear the difference, hear yourself contrast the p in parrot vs the p in tapas. The first has a burst of air right after the p). Once you have learned to hear and control this aspiration, if you can try and *add it in* when you see an h in an Indian name, so much the better.

      Thanks again!

    • 33 jason // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm

      im will be speaking to a man named Maggot, how do i pronounce his name?

    • 34 TPF // Oct 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

      How would you pronounce Sravan

    • 35 Santanu Lahiri // Oct 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm

      Pronounce the S at the begining with a hiss. The word originally means a month in the calendar when it rains.

    • 36 Andrew // Oct 28, 2009 at 1:39 am

      how do you say cody in Indian?
      Andrew in indian?
      and what does cody mean in indian?
      and what does andrew mean in indian?

    • 37 Swati Misra // Feb 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

      "Th" pronunciation…

      So growing up in Nashville and being named Swati (which is the northern spelling.. in south India people write it as Swathi) was bad enough when it came to explaining my name to people, but add in the southern accents and holy moly…!

      The easiest way I've learned to explain it to people is that you should try to double pronounce the sound itself… so instead of a phonetic 'swathi' try the first syllabyl as swath (like a long strip of cloth) with your tongue at the roof of your mouth and then second as thi as your tongue releases… then faster.. swath-thi.. eventually you end up with swathi.. only, its spelled Swati

      does that make any sense?

      also keep in mind that in India, pronunciation often varies from state to state as does spelling signifying it… I'm from Orissa so my first name is (Swati) are pronounced with a "h" sound that isn't there and my mom had a time with my husbands last name because he is from Rajastan… his last name is Agarwal, pronounced 'Ahg-ar-wall,' and in Orissa, people would see Agarwal and pronounce it 'Ahg-ar-whal-la'… We Oriyas tend to add an extra h and a places so it helps to know what part of India the name you are learning is from so you can rely on the common traits of that part of India!

      just my 2 cents :)

    • 38 ranjit gill // Mar 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      I just happened to stumble upon your website. It is so nice to see an American put so much effort into correctly/accurately pronouncing “Foreign” names. I’m 33 and still can’t get people to say my name correctly despite my pronouncing it in an American accent, “Run-Jeet”. I usually get a “hunh?” response or people think I said Run-Jet or the t is silent. WTF! Most people at work don’t even bother calling me by my first name since my last name is so “easy” to pronounce, Gill. Although, I have heard a couple of people pronounce it Hill and Jill or spell it Dill!

    • 39 ann // Mar 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      any idea on how to pronounce Dhamija?

    • 40 curious // Mar 9, 2010 at 2:06 am

      how do you pronounce Potharaju?

    • 41 romy page // Mar 11, 2010 at 3:02 am

      Hi
      Can you advise on how you would pronounce the Indian name Guispeet?
      thanks

    • 42 Joe // Mar 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      what about the "y"? I did not see an explanation of this.
      thanks!

    • 43 steph // Apr 6, 2010 at 1:40 am

      Thanks for the codification, David. I once worked with a Vijayalakshmi and a Ramasubramanyam. I agree that making the pronounciation effort is worth it's weight in positive interaction. After having mastered these names, and practicing David's rules without realizing that's what I was doing, I had fun frequently surprising new team members with saying their names very nearly right the first time. My biggest problem was keeping names straight when meeting 20+ of our contractors all at one time on a trip to India. I've never mastered a set of rules that works for me in that situation.

    • 44 Maud // May 19, 2010 at 5:59 pm

      Can you help with the name:
      Athulathmudali and what about stress? Are any syllables stressed/und=stressed?

    • 45 Heather L // Jun 7, 2010 at 2:03 am

      Aside from changing the spelling of your name, I do not think there is any easy way to clue native English speakers in to the proper pronunciation of your name without totally changing the spellings. Americans in particular are completely immune to accents, umlauts and the like! Your first name will be especially difficult as the pronunciation is very different than the spelling for English-speakers. Just pronounce it slowly for people and take note on who bothers to try and say it right. Built-in nice-person radar!

      The best I can recommend is to tell people that the 'e' in your last name is pronounced. They'll say "Kail" most likely (rhymes with jail) and you can say, "The 'e' is pronounced in my name, and then say 'Kaa-ley' so they get the general idea.

      Just so you don't feel too bad about having a name that is difficult to pronounce, hardly anyone in India could pronounce my very American name! A good family friend who only spoke Kannada finally gave up and just called me Aiswharya, which I took as a serious compliment!

    • 46 kcp // Jun 17, 2010 at 11:05 am

      I have to master "Veeraraghavan" in order to introduce someone. Any help appreciated!

    • 47 BALASUNDARAM // Jun 18, 2010 at 5:01 am

      Hi my name is balasundaram i like to change as BALASUNDHRAM, is it OK

    • 48 Jon // Jun 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      So is it David kris-TEE-ann-sen or David kris-tee-ANN-sen?

      You capitalize the TEE above, but then say people think it's David Chris Jansen, which implies it is the second pronunciation above with emphasis on the ANN. (I'm going to repeat this until you tell me I have it right…) :)

    • 49 maria // Jun 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Please help in pronounicing the following names
      Biju
      Gyan
      Jemubai

    • 50 david // Aug 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      David,
      Great article! I appreciate the help. It is definitely a matter of respect to take the time to learn how to pronounce someone else’s name, as well as remember it! When you’re working with clients on a contract basis, guides like this are beneficial to gain an advantage over the competition.

    • 51 barbara // Sep 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

      Just read a novel which takes place in India- characters are : Ghosh and Hema. How are these names pronounced? As Josh? Gosh? Gauche? Hemma? Heema?

    • 52 David Christiansen // Sep 21, 2010 at 5:38 am

      I think Ghosh is gosh (as in gosh I’m embarrassed) and hema would be him-uh… Maybe?

    • 53 Robin Witt // Sep 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks for the article. And….how is S Thala pronounced?

    • 54 Neelam // Oct 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      David,
      Its great to see this post. Ghosh can be pronounced as
      Ghh-o ( as in oh )- sh. And Hema is pronounced as Hey- mah.

    • 55 Stephanie // Oct 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

      My company has hired an Indian company to do some work in our IT dept and we now have several Indian people working with us. I think it is disrespectful to them to NOT learn to say their names properly. The have been very generous and allowed some of our employees to call them something other than their whole name, but I don’t think it is right. I’m glad to see that others feel the same way. Thank you for putting up this page and helping those of us who want to learn the correct way to say Indian names.

    • 56 Cyrus // Oct 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      This site might help you.. http://www.pronoucenames.com

      ghosh is g oh sh
      hema is hey ma

      has audio too..

    • 57 adrian // Nov 22, 2010 at 2:15 am

      I work with immigrants on a regular basis and make an effort to pronounce their names correctly. Some have said just use XXX, its easier. I state, your name is important to you and I will try to pronounce it properly. The CVCVCV format is something I never thought about but used when working with persons from India. I also greet them with hello, how are you and usually get a smile and response in Punjabi. One client stated, wow it makes me feel good you even know that much. I can greet my clients in about 35 languages. Greeting being “Hello, how are you?” and can answer I am fine. I have never had one yet not smile and it breaks the ice with new people.

      Try Adrianus Antonius Johannes Schapendonk for a name, just call me Adrian.

      Ah-dree-ahn-us Ahn-tone-eus Yo-hun-es Skhahpenduhnk…the donk is like between donk and dunk

    • 58 John G // Nov 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks for the useful post. I’m trying to figure out the family name, Bawa. Is it Buh-vuh or Buh-wuh? Appreciate help from anyone out there. Thanks, John

    • 59 Randall // Dec 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks so much for this article. What a help:D

      Cheers!

    • 60 Collins Denny // Dec 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      OMG… This post is more than incredible, especially with all the helpful responses. I’m an IT Recruiter for Genworth Financial. I just came across an incredibly skilled candidate with a name like none other, and I’ve seen them all. On a whim, I searched for “enunciation of indian names” and this was the top post. I really could have benefited from this information back in 2006 when I first got into IT recruiting, but I’m glad to finally make some sense out of the madness that has come from often times mispronouncing names.

      Thank you for this awesome post. I will enjoy being able to greet the Indians I meet from now on more correctly than ever before.

    • 61 Sarah // Jan 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks for this post!

      I hope I didn’t miss someone asking this question already, but I’m wondering if there is a semi-easy way to tell if it’s a female or male name? I’ve been assuming that most names ending in “a” are feminine, but I have a feeling that’s not always the case . . . I’ve been stumbling a lot over my pronouns!

    • 62 Isa // Feb 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Hey, thanks for this post. I find it to be very helpful but I fear I must add some general confusion.
      Before I met this Indian guy named Argho, I thought I had an idea about the “a”, at least… but it turned out that in this case “a” isn’t the same as in “ahh” and he said most Indian people get his name wrong.
      I’ve heard at least 3 different versions of that name now and still can’t get it right…
      So, yeah, the point I wanted to make was that with “ahh/uhh” you’re mostly on the safe side it seems, but better ask any “Argho” how to pronouce his name -_-
      It has given me endless nightmares already.

    • 63 Samantha // Feb 25, 2011 at 10:38 am

      hi im a highschool senior and im going to be announcing an indian guest speaker by the name of Anand Giridharadas but i dont know how to pronounce his name can you help me?

    • 64 ann // Feb 26, 2011 at 8:22 am

      How do you pronounce the main characters in Verghese’s novel “Cutting for Stone?”
      Ghosh
      Hema
      Genet

    • 65 scott // Mar 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Ann,

      Ghosh: Think” Go”, long o sound.
      Hema: Himma
      Genet: Ginnet, hard G

    • 66 I Am Dali // Mar 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Here’s my handy scheme for pronouncing foreign names from many different languages.

      English spelling is pretty nonsensical at this point in history, totally nonsensical with so many vowel reductions and overlapping letters/pronunciations with the vowels. But, in many if not most foreign languages, you are safe with this scheme:

      a = “ah” as in tra-la-la
      e = “ei” as in Eight, Late, Wait.
      i = “ee” as in Pee-Wee.
      o = “oh” as in wrote.
      u = “oo/uw” as in Woo, Shoe, Blue.

      If you think carefully about the scheme, you’ll that each vowel letter in our alphabet has a certain sound which ONLY IT is suitable for. Put pronunciations like “cat/wet/rid/lot/bum” out of your mind.

      And then, using the scheme, practice reading movie credits with the schematic pronunciations above, to make it second nature. I call this the “read every word as if it’s Japanese” technique.

      Stress patterns are a whole separate issue though.

    • 67 I Am Dali // Mar 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      I am genuinely sorry for the terrible terrible copyediting job, right there.

    • 68 Tanuj Mittal // Apr 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      @Anna
      Ghosh = Gh (As in varghese) o (As in toll) sh (as in suggestion)

      Hema = h (as h in Harry) E (as a in acer) ma (as ma in mark)

      Genet = if its the muslim name i think it is pronounciation should be)

      genet = G (as J in JAM), E ( as e in eat) N (as in november) E ( As a in acer) t (indian th sound as in thanks or think).

      My name
      Tanuj = T (Indian Th sound) A (as u in cut) N (as N in november) U ( as short U sound in pull)
      J ( J as in Juliet)

      Mittal = M (As M in Mate) I ( As I in fix) TT (this is hard one indian th sound in think 2 times with no pause the same way as L in Killer) A (as U in cut) L ( L as in lima)

    • 69 Tanuj Mittal // Apr 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      If u want where u need to stretch I think I know about them too

    • 70 Tanuj Mittal // Apr 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      @ Samantha
      Anand = A (a as in after) N ( n as in nancy) a ( as in cut) N (n as in nancy) D ( Da sound like u generally say word “the “in english but just say th from the and not the whole the)

      Giridharidas it shud not be giridharadas

      giridharidas = G ( as g in grammer) I ( i as in fix) R (R as in romeo) I ( I as in Fix) dha ( is dha sound no english word with that sound i will suggest use da as in ‘the’) ri ( re as in reel) da (say the whole the word ) s (as s in samantha)

    • 71 Manali // Jun 11, 2011 at 4:21 am

      hey David. it was really nice of u to take d effort to explain d correct pronounciation of our names. btw u were asking bout d meaning of indian names ? well, almost 98% of our names have a deep meaning, taken mostly from sankrit language. but der r ppl whose names have no practical meaning in ny language. nyways, thnx 4 d post. appreciate ur effort ! my name’s pronounced as MA-NAH-LEE.

    • 72 Dipanshu // Jun 15, 2011 at 12:58 am

      can u tell people how to say my name correctly m Indian, my name is Dipanshu Parti

    • 73 Ashokamahapatramanagalingamashiromani G. // Jun 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      I use only initial because my last name is a bit long.

    • 74 Naomi Ningishzidda // Aug 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      In the digital arts we have a sort of fan club dedicated to one of the developers of Adobe Photoshop because he has been on the credits forever and his name is INCREDIBLE: Seetharaman Narayanan. Thank you for the article it was very refreshing and respectful of Indian names.

    • 75 Michael // Sep 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      How do you pronounce Muwafaq? It means successful.
      - Michael

    • 76 Pat Eldred // Sep 15, 2011 at 10:54 am

      I am teaching the novel Nectar in a Sieve and am curious about the pronunciation and stress of syllables in the name of the main character – Rukmani. Thanks.

      Pat

    • 77 Sara // Sep 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      How would you pronounce Anirudh?

    • 78 m // Sep 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      un-ee-rood
      (d is the dh sound)

    • 79 Mon // Oct 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

      Hey,

      I really appreciate all your efforts in putting together this thread! Kudos to all of you!

      Monika – Indian :) easy name though!

    • 80 Pronunciation | J and B – India // Nov 9, 2011 at 1:22 am

      [...] to share good work written by other bloggers, and found David Christiansen’s article “How to Pronounce Indian Names” to be a great introduction for a complete newbie. Granted, it doesn’t get into some of [...]

    • 81 Rechal // Dec 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      Just some helpful hints (I study Hindi – the national language of India):

      The “a” in Indian names is either pronounced “ah”, like David mentioned, or “uh” (like in “up”). It’s not always easy to know which sound it should be when written in English (the Hindi script specifies).

      “e” is pronounced like “ay” as in “hay”

      “i” can either be pronounced short or long (as in “pit” or “Pete) sometimes the long sound is spelled “ee” in names, as well.

      Other than that, everything else already written looks great!

    • 82 martha // Dec 25, 2011 at 7:32 am

      In my experience, “a” is rarely pronounced “ah” and almost always pronounced “uh”, Ravi is pronounced Abeshek is pronounced UH beh SHAKE

    • 83 Marlese // Jan 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Based on some of the comments I’m a bit confused. How would one pronounce the name Dilen?

    • 84 Review: eBook Creation Services from BookTango.com // Feb 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      [...] How To Pronounce Indian Names [...]