Name pronounciation help (Indian or Polish)

How do you pronounce “Wijewickrema” and what sort of name this is?

I’m going to have occasion to work with somebody by that name and I pride myself on trying hard to prounounce names correctly; I hate it whenever I hear someone say “hyuk hyuk that shore is a funny name, can just I call you ‘alphabet soup’ or ‘Bob’?”

I couldn’t tell you how to pronounce it, but doing a search on Google indicates that the name is definitely Indian, not Polish, if that helps at all.

Since it’s Indian (as in from India), then it’s largely phonetic. The only major considerations would be that the Ws are usually like soft Vs, and the R is a hard one - getting close to a D. And I couldn’t tell you which consonant to emphasize, but given my reasonably extensive (but fairly uneducated) knowledge of Indian names, I’d say it’s probably said:


If 'twere Polish, it’d probably be pronounced WISH-kremm-uh; they moosh their syllables together a bit more.

If it were Polish (which it’s not) it would be “vee-yeh-vitz-KREH-ma”.

The name appears to be Srilankan. It is like Indian but not truly so. As far as the pronunciation goes it would be something like vi-jay-vik-ray-maa.

(Hi, I’m back! I finished my book! — well, nearly.)

Yup, the name is (South) Indian, derived from Sanskrit “Vijaya-vikrama”, meaning more or less “valor of victory”. In Sanskrit itself the pronunciation would be approximately “VEE-jai-yuh VICK-ruh-muh”, and the modern pronunciation is probably about the same. Just stress the “Vee” and “Vick” of the first and third syllables and slur over the rest, and it should sound fine.

Correct. Polish syllables aren’t “mushed together.” In fact, I’d say they’re quite distinct and you don’t hear the sort of compressing of syllables (and certainly no schwas) that you do in English. If you don’t speak Polish, though, it may sound like it all runs together, but that’s how it is with any language you’re not familiar with.

I think in the Sinhala language they not only write that bilabial phoneme with <w>, they actually pronounce it [w] too, not [v] as in Hindi. But then Hindi also has [w] and [β] as allophones of its /v/ phoneme.

I’ve never offended anyone by simply saying that I’d like to learn how to pronounce their name correctly and asking for a little tutorial. Often I will ask them to spell it for me (in the case of a verbal introduction) because that’s how my brain works. So far they all seem to have appreciated the effort.

And it’s safer than guessing and thinking you’ve got it right, while they politely refrain from correcting you but seethe inwardly every time you mangle their name.

I’m aiming to prepare myself a bit in the hopes of avoiding making the self-introductions any more prolonged and painful than they need be. Not to be snippy, but this is GQ, I asked for the pronounciation of the name, not for a lesson on your personal opinion of what constitutes good etiquette.

Kimstu has basically nailed it.

But I’d like to add that if it’s a guy, it’s usually spelled “Vijay” and if it’s a girl, it’s usually “Vijaya”. Also, in India the “Vi” is usually pronounced “Vi” as in “Victory”, although the Americans usually stress on “Vi” as in “Vee”, e.g. golfer Vijay Singh.

I apologize for trying to help by suggesting a solution that had not been mentioned. I thought you might find it useful.

I’m sitting here admiring your restrained response, Scarlett. Not many people have that capacity.

Which is the reason why, when introducing myself to a foreigner over email, I list may name as “Mariluz (pronounced Mary-Lou)”. Too many encounters with people who almost choked themselves to death trying to pronounce that almost-mute z.

If you don’t know how to pronounce my name, asking is surely a better idea than choking to death!

Thanks. I’ve also made a note not to try to help the OP in future. God forbid I should offend again.

Yeah well, you could be wasting your time.

Chances are he will stroll in and say: ‘My name is VJ - just don’t try to spell it’

I think you could have better intell - Polish or Ceylonese :-}

Chances are you are so uninformed that ‘he’ is a she

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