Pronunciation of Burt Reynolds

Now Burt Reynolds has died, let’s learn how to pronounce his name correctly.

This is what we normally say in Spanish:

sound_loud_speaker /bart ˈreinolds/

It might be acceptable when we are speaking Spanish, but in English we must pronounce it in this way:

sound_loud_speaker /bɜːt ˈrenəlz/


Let’s see what we’re doing wrong:


First, the name:

Spanish people usually pronounce /bart/ (as in Bart Simpson), but it’s /bɜːt/ (in the same way, the surname of actor William Hurt is not /hart/, but /hɜːt/.) To know everything about the vowel /ɜː/ click here.

As you know, the colon (:) after the vowel /ɜː/ means it’s a long sound, but since it’s followed by a voiceless consonant it becomes a little shorter because of the phenomenon known as pre fortis clipping.

I say it in the British non-rothic way –that is, without the uttering the /r/, see explanation here-, but of course Americans pronounce the /r/ as well.


Now, the surname:

The most noticeable thing is that the letter y  in the first syllable is silent, so it’s not /r/ but /re/.
Also, the second, unstressed syllable is not an /o/, as we tend to do in Spanish, but an /ə/, that is, the famous, ubiquitous schwa.

Put all the above together and your pronunciation of Burt Reynolds will be perfect!


And here you can listen to a native speaker informing about Burt Reynolds’ death on the radio (NPR):

sound_loud_speaker TV and film star Burt Reynolds died yesterday in Jupiter, Fla., from a heart attack. He was 82. Reynolds appeared in a hundred films. Many, he joked, were so bad they were shown in prisons and on airplanes because no one could leave. Reynolds began acting in the ’50s, but his career really took off when he became a regular on the TV talk show circuit in the ’70s…