Based on what I've learnt so far in Esperanto, it send to be rather consistent and straightforward in pronunciation - as in, each letter has a unique pronunciation.(I learn from Duolingo, by the way)

However, one thing which bothers me is the right pronunciation of 'o'. Consider the following observations of mine(Do note that most of the pronunciations have been exaggerated for clarity and due to lack of phonetic symbols):

  • Homo It sounds, at least to me, like haw-mo, with the two O's pronounced differently.

  • Other such words with​ two O's, pronounced differently, are ovo, ĉokolado, mono, persono , pomo, etc.

  • However, in some words with two O's, both O's are pronounced the same way. For example, koko, bovo, etc.

  • Poŝtelefono sounds like poash-tele-fawno.

  • Patro sounds like paa-throw but gepatroj sounds like ge-paa-throi.

  • Final O's are always pronounced as like the O in 'go' rather than the O in 'cot'.

My Question

Simply put,

  • how to pronounce O in Esperanto? Are my interpretations right or wrong?

  • Is it true that the two O's in words like homo, ovo, etc. are pronounced differently?

I would be glad if you could suggest an English equivalent or suitable example for the pronunciation of O in Esperanto.


Short answer: O has only one sound no matter where it appears in a word.

I address this topic in a recent blog post.

As for English equivalents, there aren't any. In my article, I say it's like the O in hope, but this is an approximation. One difficulty for English speakers is that there are no words that end in a pure O. I talk about that a little bit in this video because it's easier to demonstrate it than to write about it.

  • Thanks, @Tomaso Alexander , does this mean that 'mono' sounds like 'moan-oh' and not 'mawn-oh'? Mi ne scias ĉar mi estas komencanto! Aug 5 '17 at 18:03
  • Plus, Duolingo makes it sound like 'mawn-oh'. Aug 5 '17 at 18:03
  • Can you include a link to the Duolingo sentence you're talking about? As for 'moan-oh' vs 'mawn-oh', it is in large part for this reason that I started making videos on YouTube. I'm not 100% sure I understand what you mean by 'moan-oh' and 'mawn-oh'. See my paragraph above about "English equivalents." I have lessons on my YouTube channel where I teach pronunciation, and I model good pronunciation in my videos. To me "mono" sounds like mo no -- but these are Esperanto letters, not English ones. Aug 5 '17 at 18:18
  • I would say that the pronuciation in this sentence is fine - and does not sound like "maw-no" to me. Similarly, this sentence is fine too. Aug 5 '17 at 18:45

first time answer-er here. I live in New Zealand, and have a degree in Japanese, and have been studying Esperanto approximately a year. The pronunciation of 'o' has also always been interesting to me in both Esperanto, Japanese & Maori, especially when coming at it from an English language background with all its different variations of pronouncing things.

Japanese, Maori, Esperanto and a whole bunch of other languages all follow the same a, e, i, o, u pronunciation guide. Unfortunately, basically, the pronunciation seems to come down to how you perceive the letter o in your own native speech. When considering the sound for o, and you read 'o as in bob' etc, there are a lot of different ways that English speakers pronounce the vowel part of that word. For example, many would end up saying o as in 'throw', or as in either of the o's in follow, the o in 'continuing' etc.

In my experiences in Japanese, most fluent &/or native speakers understand the meaning behind the o, even if in some cases it could sound like an 'a' or an 'ow', rather than the correct 'o'. Luckily for me, I learned the correct pronunciation at an early enough age (12 or so), so I've never really had to think about it too much, but do sometimes have to run it through that filter in my brain when hearing it in Esperanto too, to remember that it might be an o rather than some other vowel.

I'd say most others would understand what you're saying, but when first starting out, to ensure you hear the words at the same time as you learn how to pronounce them is key. The pronunciation guide will only ever help when used with sound rather than by what you (ie people in general here) may glean from reading about the pronunciation itself.

  • Nice first answer, and thanks! (+1) Aug 28 '17 at 8:29

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