The Problem[1]

As part of my work I have to pronounce a lot of names and other uncommon/specialized words. More often than not this turns out to be hard.

This is quite time-consuming because of things like:

  • People trimming off or omitting introductions from speeches, TED talks, podcasts etc.
  • The scourge of machine-generated SEO-bait websites and YouTube channels with incorrect pronunciations flooding the internet with noise. 
  • Even when they get it right:
    • This guy (headphone warning, try to guess the timestamp when he finally says it)
  • People sometimes being confidently wrong in their podcasts etc. (guilty...)
  • People with interesting names often not particularly caring about, or just being resigned to, mispronunciations.


I'm going to maintain and regularly add to a list here of pronunciations for key names and concepts relevant to LW and its extended ecosystem. Hopefully this will be a useful resource for anyone creating audio content, giving talks, interviews etc. Maybe check here first before wading into Google.

Feel free to comment with corrections and suggested additions.\


  • Apotropaic - æp.ə.trəˈpeɪ.ɪk
  • Aviles - a VEE lays
  • Bear Braumoeller - Beer BROW-mewlla
  • Bernal - ber NAHL
  • Brynjolfsson - brinYOLFsen
  • Brower - like eyebrow
  • Carnot cycle - Approximately French kaʁno - CARno
  • Char-RNN - -CAR arr enn enn
  • Compute (noun) - Com-PUTE 'how much comPUTE would it take to brute-force this?'
  • COP 21 - 'cop' 21 (not initials), 'cop' like 'copper'
  • Dag Hammarskjöld - Here are some native speakers. Darg Hammerheld/Hammerhold/Hammer-hyeld. Roll the r if you're fancy.
  • Demeter - duh·MEE·tuh
  • Duprex - doo PRAY
  • Dylan Hadfield-Menell - DIL-lan HADfield-menELL
  • Eleusinian - elle you SINny an
  • Eli Lifland - Ee -lye LIFF-lend
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky  - Elly EZzer Yood (rhymes wood) - COW - ski  
  • Esfandiary - ESS fan diYAHri (based on the Persian pronunciation)
  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) - EL-see
  • Eudaemonia - you-da-MOAN-ia (you da man! no, you da man!)
  • Evan Hubinger - Evan HEW-bin-ger (as in germ) 
  • Frequentist - FREEquenTIST 
  • FU YING (approximate pronunciation)- Foo (as in 'foot', don't hang onto the vowel), Ying (as written, approximately.)
  • Stephan Guyenet - STEffen Geeyenay (hard g, rhymes with DNA)
  • IARPA - eye-ARPA (with the dipthong between syllables 1 and 2). 'Ieyarpa.'
  • Igic - IGG itch
  • Jaffe - Jaffy
  • Jan Leike - Yarn Like-eh
  • Kareiva (Peter) - Ka-REEva
  • Kokotajlow - ko-ko-tie-low
  • Leverhulme - Leaver - hume
  • Mandarin (language) - MAN duh-ren (the last I is not sharp, the last syllable is weak.)
  • Mercator - Mer - KAY - ter
  • NeurIPS Conference - rhymes with europe's conference or 'new rips' conference. 
  • Piers Millett – Somewhere between 'pierce' and 'peers', muh-LETT
  • Sarewitz - sair (rhyme hair) uh wits
  • SARS CoV 2 - 'sars KOH-vee two'
  • Savulescu - savoo LEscoo
  • Schlegeris - ? It's either shLEG-ris or shLERRis, I've heard both, TODO
  • Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh - (yes) Shawn uh'HAY-ger-t(h)é 
  • Selegiline - suh LEDGE uh lean
  • Vernor Vinge – VIN-djiy 
  • Wassily Kandinsky - va·suh·lee kan·din·skee 
  • Wasieleski - Vashi-LESHky
  • Zhdanov - ˈʐdanəf
  1. ^

    Test footnote


New Comment
7 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:40 AM

I find to be very helpful with this.

Some websites are great, but I've found they're wrong often enough I usually want to corroborate them with something else.

A specific pronunciation I sometimes want and haven't been able to find in the past is Ali Maow Maalin, for reading 500 Million, But Not A Single One More.

(The other awkward names in that according to me are Viktor Zhdanov and Karel Raška, and I don't remember their pronunciations offhand but it looks like some combination of google and Wikipedia will help.)

I would use the following strategy: find how the name is written in the original language, then copy it into Google Translate (with the correct language set) and click to hear the pronounciation.

For example, the Wikipedia English page for Viktor Zhdanov links to Russian (Русский) page for... well, the page title is Жданов, Виктор Михайлович (вирусолог), because there were multiple famous people with the same name (including the patronymic)... but anyway, just copy everything into Google Translate, which also deciphers the Cyrillic, so you can now rearrange it to Виктор Жданов.

With Karel Raška, you already have the correct written form, just set the language in Google Translate to Czech.

Yeah this is a super useful method and increasingly my go-to for esp. Chinese 

This is a great strategy, Viliam, thank you! Stumbled upon it while trying to pronounce Ali Maow Maalin.

It can also be very useful to translators, like me! Thank you!