The phonetic representations that appear below present four kinds of information.
First, syllables are separated by spaces.
Second, the relative stress of the syllables is represented by size, with more stressed syllables being larger and less stressed syllables being smaller.
Third, the individual consonant and vowel sounds of the names are represented using symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
Fourth, different degrees of sonority are represented by the darkness of the symbols. The least sonorous sounds, voiceless stops, are the darkest, and the most sonorous sounds, vowels, are the lightest. This is a graphic way to represent one aspect of sound symbolism: less sonorous sounds are often considered harder, heavier, and harsher, and more sonorous sounds are often considered softer, lighter, and more musical.
Juxtaposing the phonetic representations in this way allows you to see some of the differences between names that you hear. You might not be familiar with the IPA, but try to guess what the names are from their representations. Click on a representation if you want to learn which name it belongs to.
June 21st, 2007 by The Name Inspector