How to Pronounce Pipe Maker Names

It's never my intention to insult someone's intelligence (but sometimes I do). It's also never my intention to mispronounce someone's name (but sometimes I do). Mispronunciation is a particular potential if a person's name follows the phonetic standards of a language other than my native English — that's aside from spelling, even for names that are commonplace among English speakers. Think of all the ways to spell Caitlyn... Caitlin? Katelyn? Kaytlin? Kaytlyn? Ctlyn? Kate. Thank God I don't work for Starbucks.

I remember the first time I walked into a pipe shop and perused the vast array of quality pipes. Many of the makers were familiar to me, but I had never discussed them out loud — having previously only interacted with fellow pipe smokers over the internet.

I noted a certain Radice Billiard in the glass display case, but admiring it through the panes was inadequate; I had to hold. Not knowing the proper protocol, though, I asked the shop clerk, "Is it alright if I hold that RA-dis?" (Hear radish but with "s" instead of "sh").

The clerk smiled. "That's exactly the way I first pronounced it. Italian names are tough, especially that of Luigi Rah-DEE-chay. And don't get me started on Greek carvers. I once met Michail Kyriazanos at a pipe show and had to pick my tongue up off the floor after I tried introducing him to a friend."

I laughed. "Maybe I should approach this one country at a time."

Embarrassment aside, the moment was comical, and similar situations have occurred since working at Smokingpipes, with Shane Ireland having become my personal pronunciation guide, as he's met countless pipe makers personally.

Why not, then, help other pipe smokers and collectors avoid the humorous embarrassment I've experienced? If, like me, you've always hesitated when trying to pronounce pipe makers from, say, Denmark, Italy, Japan, China, Germany, and other countries — heck, even some American carvers have names that aren't pronounced the most obvious way — then hopefully this guide gives you confidence and spares some correction further down the road.

Some names' pronunciation may be more obvious to some people than to others, and there's no pride or shame to be had — we're all in this together. After all, my name's "Truett," and that's certainly given some non-native English speakers pause. Below are a number of pipe makers whose names English speakers might have difficulty pronouncing.

Note: Capital letters denote the word's emphasis. Italics denote normal English pronunciation. Also, many languages contain sounds unlike any we have in English, so forgive the anglicization of some of these names.

Danish Pipe Makers

Most Danish pipe makers' names follow similar English pronunciation standards, but there is some variation. Most notably, the Danish "j" is pronounced like an English "y".

Benni Jorgensen — BEN-ee YOR-ken-sen

Erik StokkebyeErik STOKE-ah-bee

Jess Chonowitsch — YESS KAHN-oh-vitch

Kurt BallebyKurt BAL(like the name Al)-uh-bee

Lasse Skovgaard — LAH-suh SKOHV-guard

Nanna Ivarsson — NAH-nuh EE-var-son

Peter Heding Peter HEAD-ing

Teddy KnudsenTeddy k-NOOD-sen

Italian Pipe Makers

Claudio Cavicchi — Claudio kah-VEE-kee

Davide Iafisco — DAH-vee-day EE-ah-FEE-skoh

Gabriele — gah-bree-ELL-ee

Jacono — YAH-koh-noh

Radice — rah-DEE-chay

Savinelli — sav-i-NELL-ee

Ser Jacopo — SAIR YAH-koh-poe

Japanese Pipe Makers

Hiroyuki Tokutomi — heer-oh-YOO-kee toe-koo-TOE-mee

Kei-ichi Gotoh — KAI-eech-ee GO-toe

Ray Kurusu Ray koo-ROO-soo

Smio Satou — SMEE-oh SAT-oh

Tsuge Ikebana — TSOO-gay ee-kay-BAH-na

French Pipe Makers

Butz-Choquin — BOOTS show-KEH

Chacom — sha-KOHM

Genod — JUH(like the second "g" in "garage")-node

German Pipe Makers

Dirk Heinemann Dirk HIGH-nah-muhn

Frank AxmacherFrank OX-mah-ker

Joura — YOUR-ah

Ken Dederichs Ken DEE-der-icks

Vauen — VOW-en

Werner Mummert — VER-ner MUM-ert

Russian Pipe Makers

Alexander Tupitsyn Alexander too-PIT-sin

Vladimir GrechukhinVladimir gruh-CHOO-kin

Nikolay Kozyrev — NEE-koh-lie KOH-zee-rev

Sergey Ailarov — SAIR-gay AYE-lah-rov

Sergey Dyomin — SAIR-gay DIE-oh-meen

Viktor YashtylovViktor YASH-tee-lov

Other Pipe Makers

Chris Asteriou Chris ah-STEER-ee-yoo

Gustavo Cunha (Martelo)Gustavo COON-yah

Michail Kyriazanos — MEE-kai-el kee-ree-ah-ZAH-nos

Sam Cui Sam SWEE

Wojtek Pastuch — VOY-tek pass-TOOK


Yuwei — YOO-way

Hopefully this guide prompts courage as well as greater understanding and unity among us as pipe smokers, and it's always helpful to be able to properly introduce the makers represented in your pipe collection and recommend them to fellow pipe smoking friends. If there are certain makers not listed above that you've always been unsure of how to pronounce, feel free to leave a comment, and if you're feeling brave, don't be shy about recounting any experiences you've had regarding name mispronunciation — It's a shared feeling between us all, and hopefully we can chuckle about it after the fact.


    • McJagger on February 20, 2020
    • If Sam Cui uses the standard pronunciation of pinyin (romanized Chinese), his surname name should be pronounced "SWAY". Likewise, XuHai should be "SHU-HI".

    • Truett on February 20, 2020
    • Thanks so much for the feedback, @McJagger!

    • Matt23 on February 20, 2020
    • great article! I think it's important to pronounce a person's name as it would be in their native land or culture, or at least to make an honest effort. It's just basic respect. Some people are OK with their name having some pronunciation variations: ask them!

      Now when are we going to have a conversation about "La-ta-KEE-uh" ? :-D

    • Dan H. on February 22, 2020
    • Great article. Have to admit there were more than a few that I was way wrong on!

    • Daryn on February 23, 2020
    • What about Amphora? Is the emphasis on the first or second syllable? Thanks

    • Warren on February 23, 2020
    • Very helpful for those of us that have hearing impairments. Having the pronunciation spelled out is more helpful that just recording the spoken pronunciation. Thanks for providing both!

    • Dan H. on February 23, 2020
    • How about Mastro de Paja? I've been pronouncing it like it's Spanish (think Baja with a p), but looking over this list, is it Pah-yah? Pah-jah

    • Alfredo Baquerizo on February 23, 2020
    • In Spanish some names have different pronunciation, remember that the spanish- español and the italian- italiano are Latin languages, the Nordic languages have different pronunciation for the Spanish or Latin American people for example.

      For example
      Claudio Cavicchi \Claudio ca vi qui
      For us Ca vee kee is incorrect.

      Two very different idioms that have different roots.

    • truculentfrogs on February 24, 2020
    • Congrats on this much needed and helpful reference.

    • VauenUndDieVolk on March 6, 2020
    • Thanks for the list.

      In German, a V is pronounced as an F.

      Vauen = Fau -en

    • Truett on March 9, 2020
    • @VauenUndDieVolk That's what I always thought too, but Vauen's website mentions how it's pronounced "Vow - en." (Granted, they could be anglicizing it.)

    • Peter e on March 14, 2021
    • I’ve heard Vauen is pronounced with an F like Fow en. I thought it was odd but a couple different German people have said this in videos.

    • AZ Mountain Geek on October 3, 2021
    • I've been wondering about "Castello" - is it pronounced with the usual English 'L' sound, or with the Spanish 'LL' sound or something else (since they're Italian). Also which syllable is accented?

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