A bible to be read aloud

by Felix Alexander

The Holy Bible in 21st century English, this variant of the WEB, is meant to be spoken aloud as easily and as literally as possible. This means that it has more contractions than written English usually does, even when quoting people’s speech.

In particular, the pronoun “them” is usually transcribed as “em” instead, to speed up the text to more natural and relaxed pace. It’s my opinion that this will help you understand the text like you understand spoken text.

But more importantly, the first use of “unusual names” in each chapter will have accents and other diacritics to help you work out the traditional pronunciation. This is especially important in a modern Bible, because the normal way to guess the pronunciation of names has changed, so if you’ve never seen a word before you might guess the pronunciation wrongly. My source for as many of the pronunciations of these words as possible is my sixty-year-old copy of King James’ Authorised Version of the Bible, published by Collins Cleartype Press in Great Britain. This copy of the bible attributes them to Mr H. A. Redpath, MA. But I’ve altered the transcription to make it easier to digitise, while (as he did) avoiding any “respelling”.

How syllables are broken up in words

An apostrophe is used before a stressed syllable. A hyphen is used before an unstressed syllable. If there’s two vowels within one syllable, they’re usually a “digraph” (if they’re together), like the “ai” in ˈrain or the “eu” in ˈeu-caˈly̆p-tus. Alternatively, if they’re separated by a consonant, the second one is silent, like the “e” in rāce or the first “a” and the second “e” in the adjective ˈsĕpa-rate.

How vowel length is marked

A vowel without an accent is an unstressed vowel. Just relax when you pronounce it.

But stressed vowels are always marked (except for digraphs). A macron makes a long vowel—the letter “says its name”—but a breve makes a short vowel: “băt bĕt bĭt bŏt bŭt”.

When y is a vowel, it should be treated like an i.