Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Moschino…, how do you pronounce these names correctly?

September is one of the most important months of the year for every fashion enthusiast, as it is when the most prestigious fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London and New York take place. It is worth making sure that you do not use polonised or colloquial names of your favourite brands. To avoid faux-pas, the linguists of the Babbel language learning platform have prepared a guide on how to pronounce the names of foreign fashion brands.

With New York Fashion Week (7-13.09), we kick off fashion September with a look at what trends will reign in the coming months. Next will be London Fashion Week (15-19.09), Milan Fashion Week (19-25.09) and Paris Fashion Week (25.09-3.10). During these, we will read many times about fashion brands – both iconic and emerging, which are currently on everyone’s lips. And their names can sometimes cause a lot of trouble! That is why the linguists at the Babbel language learning platform have prepared a summary of the pronunciation rules in English, Italian and French that are worth knowing

Names of British fashion brands (the accent in brand names has been bolded):
– Burberry: Ber-be-ri
– ASAI: A-sa-i
– Dilara Findikoglu: Di-la-raFan-di-ko-lu
– ERDEM: Er-dem
– Vivienne Westwood: Wi-wien Łest-łud
– Mulberry – Mel-ber-ri
– KNWLS – Now-lz

American fashion brand names:

– Anna Sui: Ana Słi
– Calvin Klein: Kal-win Klain
– Carolina Herrera: Ka-ro-laj-naHe-re-ra
– DKNY: Di-kej-en-łaj
– Jimmy Choo: Ji-mi Chu
– Proenza Schouler: Pro-en-za Sku-ler
Basic rules of pronunciation in English:
Spelling: One of the basic features of English is that many words are spelt similarly, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they are also pronounced similarly. Think of the pronunciation of words such as cough (pol. cough), rough (pol. rough ), though (pol. however) and through (pol. through).
The consonant ‘r’ is also very difficult for Polish speakers to pronounce. Round your lips slightly, put them forward and lift the tip of your tongue towards your palate (but don’t touch it!), slightly deeper than when pronouncing “l”.
In English, we also have words that do not sound at all like their spelling would suggest. For example, debt and doubt are words that have inherited the “b” from the Latin debitum, from which they are derived – except that the “b” is no longer audible, only visible. The same with the word receipt. But that is not all. The spelling of some words has been altered specifically to coincide with the Latin spelling. For example, the spelling of the Old English word iland has been changed to island – a small nod to the Latin word insula.
Accentuation: In English, the question of accent is quite flexible and non-standardised. Above all, there can be no clear-cut rules about which syllables should be accented. Interestingly, a different accent can change the whole meaning of a word, turning a noun into a verb, e.g. noun:present and verb: present(pol. present).

Names of Italian fashion brands:

– Dolce & Gabbana: Dol-cze e Ga-bba-na
– Gucci: Gu-czi
– Moschino: Mo-ski-no
– Miu Miu: Mju-Mju
– MSGM: Emme-se-je-emme
– Versace: Ver-saa-cze
Basic rules of pronunciation in Italian
Italian pronunciation differs from Polish in many ways. We have listed some general differences you should be aware of.
Vowels: There are only five vowels in Italian: “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, “u” and they are articulated similarly to Polish. They are usually pronounced clearly and there are no silent or nasal vowels.
Consonants: Most consonants in Italian are pronounced similarly to Polish. However, there are some specific differences, such as the pronunciation of “c” and “g” occurring before the vowels “e” and “i”. In these cases, we pronounce them as “cz” and “j”. The voiced “h” is not pronounced, except when it is between the above-mentioned consonant-vowel combinations, viz: “che”/”chi” corresponds to the Polish pronunciation of “ke”/”ki”, “ghe”/”ghi” is the Polish “gi”. In contrast, before the vowels “a”, “o” and “u”, the consonants “g” and “c” are pronounced hard, i.e. “ga”, “go”, “gu” and “ka”, “ko”, “ku”.
Accentuation: the accent in Italian often falls on the penultimate syllable of a word → similar to Polish, e.g. matita (pol. ołówek), funzione (pol. funkcja). There are exceptions, however, such as in the word città(pol. city) the accent falls on the last syllable, while in the word grammatica (pol. gramatyka) it falls on the third syllable from the end.
Special sounds: Italian contains several double consonants, such as “gl”, “gn” and “qu”, which are pronounced in a special way → “gn” is pronounced similar to the Polish “ñ”, such as in the word gnocchi (pol. potato dumplings), while “gli” as “li” and “qu” as “kł”. The “r” sound in Italian is mostly twisted, as in Polish, which makes the Italian accent extremely melodic.

French fashion brand names:

– Balmain: Bal-mê (Bal-[mɛ̃])
– Christian Louboutin: kristia lu-bu-tê (Krist[iɑ̃] Lu-bu-[tɛ̃]).
– Givenchy: Zi-wą-szi (żi-[wɑ̃]-szi)
– Hermès: Er-mes
– Lanvin: Lą-wę ([lɑ̃]-[wɛ̃])
– Louis Vuitton: Lu-i wi-tą (Lu-i Wi-[tɔ̃])
– Maison Margiela: Me-ą mar-żie-la (Me-[sɔ̃] Mar-żie-la)
– Yves Saint Laurent: Iw-sę-la (Iev-[sɛ̃]-lo-[rɑ̃])

Basic rules of pronunciation in French

In French, we often write letters that we do not subsequently pronounce. An example is the consonants at the end of words, which are often not heard. Thus, un chat (Polish: kocur) is pronounced [sza]. However, if the last consonant is followed by an ‘e’ vowel, the consonant is then audible. Thus une chatte (pol. kot) we say as [szat]. As you can see, in French we usually do not pronounce the ‘e’ at the end of a word. Exceptions are words such as je (pol. ja), le (pol. the, that) and que (pol. that), where the ‘e’ is the only vowel in the word. Similarly, ‘h’ is silent.
How to pronounce specific letters:
“s” and “z” – when a single “s” is between two vowels, it is usually voiced, but if it is at the beginning of a word, after a consonant or as a double “s”, it is usually voiceless. The letter ‘z’ is almost always voiced.
“r” – the French “r” is produced from deep in the larynx – we get similar sounds when we gargle. To learn to pronounce it well, it is best to start with articulation exercises – to begin with, it is enough to pronounce sounds such as /k/ and /g/ several times.
“u” is pronounced like the Polish “y”. The combination “ou” corresponds to the Polish “u”.
“au”, “eau” are read as “o”
Nasal vowels are pronounced when air passes through the nose and mouth. They are: “a”, “e”, “i”, “o” and “u” when they come before “n” or “m”. Thus, in pardon (pol. excuse me),nom (pol. name), lundi (pol. Monday) or parfum (pol. perfume) the bold vowels are nasal. In Polish we have two nasal vowels: “ą” and “ę”. The most important rules to remember:
[ɑ̃] occurs in the following letter combinations: an, en, am, em, aon → e.g. enfant (with a silent “t”) (pol. dziecko), ambulance (pol. karetka pogotowia), paon (pol. paw). If “a” is followed by a single letter “m” or “n” and another consonant, the vowel is pronounced nasally, similar to “ą”.
[ɛ̃] occurs in the following letter combinations: un, um, in, im, en, ain, aim, ein, yn, ym → e.g. matin (pol. morning), impôts (pol. tax), chien (pol. pies), main (pol. hand), faim (pol. hunger), teinture (pol. dye), syndicat (pol. trade union), symtpome (pol. symptom), lundi (pol. Monday) or parfum (pol. perfume). The pronunciation sounds like the Polish “ę”.
[ɔ̃] occurs in the following letter combinations: on, om → e.g. pantalon (pol. trousers), nom (pol. name). The pronunciation sounds like the Polish “ą”. Importantly, before the double “mm”, “nn” or any other vowel, the letters are not pronounced nasally.
Maybe with these rules, you will know how to pronounce foreign brand names and will feel like a fish in the water in the fashion showrooms. Good luck!
source: Babbel press materials

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