I am doing a presentation and I need to reference someone named "Sorin".

I watched a quick video of his lecture and to my surprise his name (when read out loud by another speaker) sounded like "Son-Hen".

I tried several times to imitate this pronunciation but I just couldn't get it right. Can any French speaker instruct as to what would be the best English approximation of this name?

  • Sorry, but how can a French speaker give you the best English pronunciation??? Names are never translated. You might ask him.
    – Lambie
    Apr 17 '17 at 11:51
  • @FeeLew How do you read copainsdavant.linternaute.com/p/sylvie-sorin-3783905 in Romanian?
    – Fraïssé
    Apr 17 '17 at 23:06
  • Well, since it is a last name, I'll see if I can take my vote back. Well, it looks like I can't. I'll vote it reopen if it ever closes. Sorry. Apr 17 '17 at 23:08
  • In presentation, especially in the context of a lecture, you usually refer to a person by his or her last name unless the person is exceptionally famous. For example, Papadimitriou proved that the solution lives in coNP and this result was followed up by Sorin, Cheng, and Young in the following year.
    – Fraïssé
    Apr 17 '17 at 23:10
  • There you go, found it! Sorry again for the hasle. Apr 17 '17 at 23:12

I'll give it a shot, but as a disclaimer: if you're asking this, I assume you're not familiar with French pronunciation in general. That's fine, but what it means is that people won't expect you to get it exactly. A pretty close name that English speakers are familiar with is probably Soren.

If trying to pronounce Sorin exactly right as a French name, you'd say: /sɔ.ʁɛ̃/ Google Translate gives an idea of what this sounds like here. The first syllable is easy, more or less like English.

The second syllable begins with the guttural French R that starts at the back of the throat. I would avoid thinking of it as "n-h" even if it sounds like that at first. You can hear it here (click "play" on the right). If that's a little hard to learn just now, you can settle for a more Spanish "rolled" R, like the one here. It can sound a little regional, but you might still consider it a trade-up from the English R.

Then it ends in a nasalized "eh" sound. Try saying the word "wren" slowly, but then stop yourself just before you actually pronounce the "n".

It's important to note that the accent is on the second syllable.

I have a pretty weak mic, but here is a recording with four options. The first two are with French R, the next two with Spanish R, the fifth with English R, and the last just pronouncing it like an English name. (In these examples the foreign R sounds are highly emphasized to make them clearer.)

  • 1
    It is a surname. Sylvie Sorin to be precise. Definitely French. Lives in France and only speaks French. No Romanian ancestry is known.
    – Fraïssé
    Apr 17 '17 at 16:24

As Sorin is a Romanian name, I think you should pronounce it accordingly, that is, in Romanian.

It is pretty much the same with a typically English name, say, John, which is always and everywhere pronounced the way the English do pronounce it.

  • You make a good point... I found a few references to French people named Sorin, but mostly as a surname, so this might be more likely.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 17 '17 at 14:27
  • @Luke Sawczak France has always been full of Romanian immigrants, both famous and common, so talking about a French guy called Sorin is as banal as talking about an American guy called Patrick. Apr 17 '17 at 15:01
  • The person is named Sylvie Sorin.
    – Fraïssé
    Apr 17 '17 at 16:26
  • @user26328 Ah, but the American guy named Patrick pronounces it as one would in English, not Irish or Latin, etc. (variant spellings accounted for). :p
    – Luke Sawczak
    Apr 17 '17 at 18:27

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