Talk:Pronunciation of asteroid names

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I'm going through and adding pronunciations to the asteroids bit by bit. Mostly just the names from classical mythology, plus a few oddities like Ocllo [sic]. I could use help!

My sources are the OED (on the rare occasions when it has proper names), the glossaries of Robert Fagels the Illiad and the Odyssey, Zimmerman's Dictionary of Classical Mythology (1964), the Random House dictionary, Bollard's Pronouncing Dictionary of Proper Names, Brewer's Reader's Handbook (1899), Magill's Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Tripp's Meridian [Crowell's] Handbook of Classical mythology (1970), Gayley's Classic Myths in English Literature and in Art (1893, 1911, 1939), Morford & Lenardon's Classical Mythology (5th ed., 1995), et al., including guides to pronouncing botanical and entomological names. Occasionally I'll call the local library and ask them to verify names I can't find. I don't give much credence to JPL or NASA, since they have no means to standardize the pronunciations, or to document established English pronunciations of the less common names. The scientists there that I've spoken to readily admit that they just guess at pronunciations based on the spelling, and that their colleagues often pronounce things differently. Different JPL web sites will give contradictory pronunciations, even for well established names like Dione. A good example of this are the recently named moons of Saturn with Inuit names. One NASA publication on the web gave spelling pronunciations that were completely off, even though the Inuit man who wrote the stories the names were taken from was available, and very helpful when I emailed him.

My orthography is based pretty closely on Fagle's glossaries. One change is ew for his yoo, which I hope will cover both US and UK pronunciations with the least confusion (dew instead of doo/dyoo). I am Usonian, though, so I don't have all the low vowels, and might easily mistake aw for ah, etc, especially when my sources don't make this distinction.

Why not use the IPA? I decided to use a spelling-pronunciation system for two reasons: (1) Anglophones are famously unfamiliar with the IPA, and (2) the vowels collapse in different combinations for speakers of different English dialects. I collapse ah, aw, and o, for example, but maintain a distinct ar. With the IPA, I would need to list the alternate pronunciations, and would get many of them wrong. If you wish to add the IPA, please make a separate column.

Despite what most dictionaries state, English does not have primary and secondary lexical stress. Vowels may be full or reduced, and in citation form, the final stressed vowel of a word takes phrasal stress as well. (Put a word like arachnophobia non-finally in a phrase, and you'll see that the "primary" stress is no stronger than the "secondary" stress.) Therefore I've marked all stressed syllables the same.

A question mark indicates an unverified name that's fairly straightforward, such as a change of gender from an attested name.

--kwami 2005.II.26

International Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

According to the Wikipedia Manual of Style, the International Phonetic Alphabet should be used for pronunciation. The system used here is difficult to understand for non-English speakers, who will probably be those who need this page in the first place. see: Wikipedia:Simple pronunciation markup guide. Guidelines are meant to be followed and not to bo dismissed. Andreas 15:06, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

I completely agree. As a non-English speaker, I too have difficulties to understand that pronunciation system.--Jyril 18:13, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Add the IPA to your heart's content, but please leave the current system as well.
For astronomical bodies, native English speakers need a pronunciation guide as much as non-native speakers, maybe more.
Most Usonians at any rate have no idea what the IPA is, but are familiar with spelling pronunciations like this.
No matter which IPA pronunciation system you use, someone will object that you're biased. Spelling pronunciations can be interdialectal, which the IPA cannot be. The system used here represents at least both GA and RP, and people have been adding distinctions to make it more universal.
kwami 18:32, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
If the list doesn't swell to big, different pronunciation systems are probably OK. The point is that to get a clue how the IPA characters are pronounced, you only need to listen the sound samples. But to understand the current system, you need to know how to pronounce English.--Jyril 20:26, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I think we should have both systems. Andreas & I have been having this discussion on my talk page.
I would like to add that many asteroid names are not from English and therefore may include phonemes that doesn't occur in English. Therefore IPA is necessary.--Jyril 20:29, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
No, the names have only English phonemes, because they are now English names. They've been assimilated into the language, just like the characters in Italian opera, or the names of French cities (like Ypres /'waiprz/). If a name hasn't been assimilated, then it doesn't have an English pronunciation, and should be left blank. Of course, we can include the pronunciations in the original languages as well, which is why I wanted to include the Latin and Greek. Most of the source languages have reasonably phonemic orthographies, so we don't really need the IPA for them, except maybe for a few names in defective scripts like Italian. kwami 21:12, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
I was thinking all asteroids (like 15392 Budějický for example), not only the ones listed here.--Jyril 00:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Either that has an English pronunciation, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, there's nothing to list (except as a guide to the Czech, of course); if it does, then it is limited to English phonemes. kwami 00:56, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

How about adding a table to the pronunciation key as a conversion from the current system to IPA, something like

Vowel symbol Received Pronunciation General American General Australian Scottish English
a æ æ æ a
aa ɑː ɑ a
air ɛə(ɹ) ɛɹ eː(ɹ)
ar ɑː(ɹ) ɑɹ aː(ɹ)
arr æɹ ɛɹ æɹ

etc.? This would retain the advantages of the current system, but would make it more accessible to those who prefer the IPA.--JHJ 21:24, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

That would be nice. kwami 23:01, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Clean up IPA tag[edit]

I've tagged the article with a {{cleanup-ipa}}. The KPA (Kwami Phonemic Alphabet) has not been accepted by the community as a whole. Until it is we should be following the Wikipedia guidelines. According to the manual of style ...

Pronunciation transcriptions based on traditional English spelling are deprecated. Forms such as pro-NUN-see-AY-shun may be misinterpreted by people whose first language isn't English. They can however be used in addition to the IPA version so that it's easy for people who don't know the IPA to understand them. It may also be helpful to add comments such as "rhymes with..." or "stress on the first syllable".

The MoS allows other transcriptions along side the IPA but if you've only got one system then it should be the IPA. This page as it stands violates the MoS and as such should be fixed. IPA should be added. Either that or good luck trying to have the MoS rewritten.
Do we keep the KPA ... that's another question ... but is there room? Here's food for thought though. How would Wikipedia be if everyone created their own pronunciation key?
Jimp 15:54, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Since to the best of my knowledge there is only one such key, there isn't much reason for concern. And pronunciations will only be misinterpreted if there's no key, so the concern expressed by the MoS is also misplaced. Though I agree most non-native speakers will think this system ridiculous, so knock yourself out adding the IPA. I agree it should be there. But I doubt you'll be able to capture the existing pronunciations. kwami 16:30, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I've seen other spelling-based transcriptions on Wikipedia, though, no, they were keyless. I'm just suggesting that if you had the case in which there were a whole bunch of rival systems (even if they had keys) then this would lead to great confusion. We don't have this at the moment but if you, Kwami, can create your own key what's stopping the next fella? I could go an create my own elaborate key. Hey, I could even base it on the IPA. I could include /æː/ and capture a distinction that you've skipped. I believe I could capture all the distinctions your system does and a number you skip using a system based on the IPA. I could call it the JPA (Jimp's Phonemic Alphabet). But, still, it would be my system and I wouldn't want to be using it without the thumbs up from other editors. By the way, I'm not up for proving this claim: I'm going to sleep. Jimp 18:08, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Wrong pronunciations[edit]

There are some pronunciations in the list that are clearly wrong, others I presume are wrong. I assume this is because they were added by someone without the necessary distinctions but I want to make some confirmations about them; I also want to ask for suggestions as to how certain distinctions should be written.

I've only got down to "404 Arsinoë" so far, but it appears that Kwami (or whoever added them) merges marry, merry and Mary so there's a number of words like "Ariadne" or "America" which a splitter will say as /'æri'ædni/ and ə'merɪkə or some variant on that theme, which have the first stressed syllable as "air", which to splitters denotes the vowel in Mary (i.e. /eː/, /ɛə/ etc.). Now, these words I've commented on I'm quite sure of the real splittist pronunciation because they're common enough words, but there's others like "Arethusa" air'-a-thew'-za which I'd've called /ærəθʉːzə/ or "Aëria" ay-air'-ee-a which I'd've called /æɪ'eri.ə/. Now, these words are completely unfamiliar to me, so my deviations are based on intuition (and, in the case of the latter, backed up by the Latin etymology). I do notice, however, that some words such as "Arizona" have attempted to make a distinction, so before I go in and change them I want to confirm that they are, in fact, entered by a marry-merry-Mary merger and some attempt has been made to unsplit them, and that I should generally follow my intuition.

Now, I want to bring up the next problem. To an American, it's probably quite clear that the R in such words belongs to the first syllable (hence the vowel merger). But the only orthography I can think of for them is something like a'-ra-thew'-za and ay-e'-ria (or well, ay-e'-ree-a, though I don't much like it). Now, in addition to perhaps masking the desired merger for Amairicans, both of these seem to be quite ambiguous: the solitary vowel seems like it could be a long vowel, or schwa (in spite of the diacritic) or something. If we move the r to the previous syllable for the benefit of Americans, we also have the problem of getting ar'-a-thew'-za and ay-er'-ia (or, following the lead of "Arizona", arr'-a-thew'-za and ay-err'-ia). Both of these are obviously quite bad, and would imply to me /aːrəθʉːzə/ and /æɪɜːri.ə, both undesirable, and I imagine Americans would have similar difficulties anyway. (We could perhaps denote "Aëria" less ambiguously as "ay-ehr-ia", but that still buys us nothing with the "a-ra-thew-za" case, for "ahr-a-thew-za" and "arr-a-thew-za" both mean the same thing to me.)

See the discussion on the talk page for Asteroid pronunciation key. To sum up, the system didn't make the vowel distinctions before /r/ found in non-American and eastern US varieties of English. I suggested adding arr etc., which although not terribly satisfactory seemed the least worst option given the general style of the scheme and the other uses of the symbols, and changed the ones I noticed. In some cases (like Arethusa) I just didn't know, and so left Kwami's version. In other cases (like the others you mention), I probably missed them. Go ahead and change them, as far as I'm concerned.--JHJ 14:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

So can anyone think of any possible ways of denoting these cases? I also fear if I continue reading I'll see problems with /ar-/ (hurry) and /ɜːr- (furry) so for full points the solution should also be generalisable to that case. I'm also quite very reluctant to add in an extra rule to reading the orthography—that defeats the whole purpose of this, which is that any literate English-speaker should be able to walk straight up to it and understand, in their own dialect, what it means.

I don't really think that is the purpose of this: the English spelling system is too defective to allow that. It really needs to be read in conjunction with the Asteroid pronunciation key.--JHJ 14:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

An alternative solution I thought of while thing of things completely unrelated is to create an IPA transcription of a dialect that doesn't exist, but does distinguish more or less everything that RP and General American do. Hence something like:

WIPA RP GAm AusE ... Example word
ɪ ɪ ɪ ɪ CIrius, /sɪriəs/
i i i i prettY, /prɪti/
i bean, /biːn/
i.ə i.ə i.ə AërIA, /eɪ'ɛriə/
ɪə ɪə i.ə ɪə thEAtre, /θɪətər/
ir ɪə ɪr ɪə beard, /bird/
æ æ(ː) æ æ(ː) Arethusa, /ærəθjuːzə/
ɑː æ glass, /glaːs/
ɑː ɑː ɑ palm, /pɑːm/
ɑr ɑː ɑr car, /kɑr/
ɒ ɒ ɑ ɔ bomb, /bɒm/

(Apologies to IE users ... I haven't included the IPA template. If someone feels like going through and adding it, go ahead.)

I've done some. Jimp 00:30, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Now then, everyone can probably see that this is the worst of both worlds: A system of writing that no-one knows (though people who already know the IPA can learn to read pretty quickly, I'd think), which makes distinctions your dialect doesn't so if you're writing in it you need to be careful not to make mistakes. However, it also has the advantages that it is not overly culturally imperialistic, is concise, is unambiguous. (Of course, this is just a first draft and the actual choices of glyphs and distinctions might need further thought in order to fully avoid the cultural imperialism.)

I would have in mind that this replace (rather than augment) the current pronunciations in the article, as well as all non-dialect specific uses of IPA for English in Wikipedia (so perhaps I should re-describe this elsewhere). But comments?

That's actually pretty much what the key does already, except that it uses Latin letters rather than the IPA and that it doesn't have a separate symbol for the bath words. I don't think there's any need for a separate symbol for the bath words (just give two pronunciations) and certainly not one that implies that the short A version is "American". As for whether it uses the IPA, I don't really care, but it could be a bit misleading if it did.--JHJ 14:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 13:27, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

The problem with the IPA is that people expect it to be literally correct, so that if you have /kar/ for car, a non-rhotic dialect speaker will think it's biased, etc. But with a spelling pronunciation "kar", no one will object because it matches their expectations for how that sound is written, regardless of how they actually pronounce it. Yes, it takes me a bit of effort to recognize arr, err, irr, etc., since I don't make those distinctions, but they don't strike me as "wrong" the way the IPA would. kwami 00:08, 17 December 2005 (UTC)


Regarding the pronounciation of the asteroid "Sara", I assumed it to be the same as the girls name "Sara", which I've only heard of as /saːrə/=sar-a. If instead it's meant to be the same as "Sarah", which I've only heard of as /seːrə/=sair-a, then Kwami's change is of course correct. Anyone know? (Perhaps the personal names "Sara" and "Sarah" are treated different in Australian compared with elsewhere, like "Megan" which is /miːgən/ in Oz, but I believe it's /meɪɡən/ in the US and /meɡən/ in the UK? If so, maybe "sar-a" or "sair-a" is warrented.) —Felix the Cassowary 06:19, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Raymond Smith Dugan was Usonian, but discovered it while doing grad work in Heidelberg. He named it after a friend, so I suppose /sɑrə/-sar'-ə would be correct. I'll revert. kwami 07:00, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Asteroid Apophis[edit]

The asteroid Apophis will pass very near earth on April 13, 2029. As a result of Apophis' discovery in 2004, it has received quite a bit of press. To facilitate oral discussion, it would be helpful to have Apophis included in Wikipedia's "Pronunciation of asteroid names".Fbesche 17:10, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

That would open up all asteroids to being on the list. Maybe not a bad idea, but a huge job to keep the page reliable. Maybe best just to put the pronunciation on the Apophis page? kwami 01:22, 9 May 2007 (UTC)


Someone put that Dudu has "ambivalent stress". Did that mean in English, or in the original language? If either syllable can be stressed in English, we should list both variants; if in the source language, it's not relevant. kwami 00:54, 10 May 2007 (UTC)


Think that's wrong, since no form of "standard" English that I'm aware of pronounces that way... AnonMoos (talk) 08:40, 22 January 2012 (UTC)