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Most game systems use regular English words for their names. If you don't know how to pronounce "dungeon" or "dragon", or any other regular word, e.g. Cambridge dictionary is of great help.

Proper nouns are a different story, but, generally, some audio or video exists for popular settings where those words are pronounced as intended by the publisher.

What I am having problems with, though, are numbers. If you want to learn how to pronounce dates, prices, etc. in English, there are thousands of websites where you can do it, and it's studied as part of all or almost English courses at some point. However, no course that I've taken has yet taught me how to pronounce numbers in game editions.

In Russian, the literal translation of how we read "D&D 3.5" is "D&D three point five", and I've heard this wording in English, too. But things like "3.5e" or "5e" etc. are ambiguous to me. Not even this rather thorough pronunciation guide has an answer to this problem.

So, how do I pronounce numbers in game system names&versions?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sadly, we're starting to get answers that are how they pronounce which moves to opinion based. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 1 '20 at 22:36
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There isn't a singular correct answer to this.

For D&D, I've heard 3.5e verbalized as "three point five e", "three point five edition", and very rarely (and awkardly for a native speaker) "third edition point five".

I've heard 5e verbalized as "fifth edition" or "five e".

If your audience understands what you're talking about, then any method of identifying the edition would be correct.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Down here it's even referred to as "three and a half". \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Aug 31 '20 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've also heard just Three Five ... Especially if it's already established we're talking about editions. "whole" editions might not even get mention of "e" or "edition" ... example "I really liked the Skill Challenges in fourth, but you could totally back-track that idea into three five if you wanted" \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Aug 31 '20 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I rarely hear any one say "edition" in the context of game versions. It's always shortened to "e" or dropped entirely. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31 '20 at 23:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've heard it pronounced as "ed" as short for "edition", so that 5e becomed "Fifth ed". \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Sep 1 '20 at 6:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dropping the "Edition" is pretty common. "D&D 5th" or "D&D 3rd" or "D&D 3.5" were commonly heard for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nelson
    Sep 1 '20 at 8:56
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It depends on the game, the context, and area

This can't be answered on a global area easily, as many countries do it differently. Even within a country, areas or groups might do it differently, and rules you try to establish for one game might not hold true for a different game in the same group - each group might establish their own lingo, influenced by other groups and most times the lingo is close enough that two groups might understand each other.

Example case: Germany

So this is just a short excerpt about how I saw it done in Germany, especially based on the area of Kiel (stores and RPG-club setting), but also taking into account what I know about Hamburg (from taking part in conventions there) and Berlin (from talking a lot with Berlin gamers). It's not for all games, but some of the more common ones, and based on how I experienced it.

In general, the communities I encountered might at first sound kind of strange, using a kind of Denglish (German with English terms sown in) for game discussions a lot, as many players often obtain rules in English. However, even then, we'd more commonly use the German numeral than the English one. However, for the readability, those are translated into English here. Large letters in a row, abbreviations, are usually spoken in single letters. So ABC would be pronounced as "A B C" not "Abc".

Shadowrun often skips the mentioning of the word "edition", e.g. "Shadowrun three" or "Shadowrun four" etc. Resultingly, if it's established you are talking about Shadowrun, just using "fourth" and "fifth" and so on is often acceptable; though, in this context, edition sometimes is mentioned.

The Dark Eye usually is similarly shortened as name plus number, no edition. As the game is pretty much the German paragon, the shorthand is also the German one: Das Schwarze Auge. So we'd properly use "DSA drei" and "DSA vier", where internationally it'd be "TDE three" or "TDE four" - note that pretty much no TDE material before 4th edition ever was translated. For the Hardcover of errataed (and somewhat changed) re-prints of the 4th edition, "[DSA] vier-eins" or "Wege-Reihe" are common, after the title of the Hardcover series. This translates to "[TDE] four-one" or "Way-series".

Pathfinder (1e) was sometimes referred to as "three-seven-five" or (rarely) "three-point-seventy-five" - without any reference to the system given, or rarely, using an identifier for Dungeons and Dragons. Note that in German, the "dot" would be spoken as Komma, which is, obviously, German for "comma" (,). This is because commas are used as separators in German decimals: 1/2 (one half) would be written as "0,5".

Dungeons and Dragons is very often referred to with an edition, but without the word "edition". For the third edition, it'd be "DND Three", or "D-and-D Three", for the variant also "DND three-five". Other editions are referred to similarly, and this extends to AD&D and OD&D. The "and" might be replaced with "und" by some German players or kept as "and" on an almost arbitrary level. Also, the N in German pronunciation is [en], close to how [ɛnd] is pronounced in English.

World of Darkness usually doesn't carry any edition marker, as everybody pretty much plays a mishmash inside one variant. So, a Werewolf game might be announced as "[c]WOD - Werewolf" (c is optional) or even shorter, just by the splat as "WTA". If an edition is specified, we just use "revised" or "second" together with the game-system shorthand for "WTA second", though I have seen the addition of edition for correct grammar. The only exception where the edition is usually mandatory is for the 20th Anniversary edition, which we refer to as "WTA-twenty" or, even shorter (and more commonly), "W-twenty" or similar. And... well, my group also uses "CB-twenty" as a shorthand for games that feature Changing Breeds, 20th Anniversary edition. Note that in this special case, it is sometimes arbitrary if we pronounce it with English or German numerals (twenty vs. zwanzig). And then there's Vampire, which is in 5th edition referred to as "V-five", but I have yet to hear it as "V-fünf".

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So I can only answer anecdotally, but here is my experience as an American from the West Coast.

To say 'Dungeons and Dragons' in full is a bit of a mouthful, it's not weird, but it is typically done sparingly, once or twice in a conversation. More commonly an acronym is used, either 'Dee and Dee' or 'Dee En Dee' (D&D or DnD). Once the subject of the conversation is set to D&D, typically it's just assumed and you refer to editions without prefixing or suffixing them with the name of the game, unless you're talking about multiple things that might have editions, in which case the acronym is most commonly used as a suffix - E.G "First Edition Dee and Dee" or "Fourth Edition Dee En Dee."

Using it as a prefix is not unclear or overly strange, but it feels a little more formal and less conversational. E.G: 'Dee and Dee First Edition' or 'Dee and Dee Fourth Edition'

The "rules" for naming editions out loud are as follows:

First, Fourth, and Fifth edition are just that, no surprises, typical English rules for numbers followed by the full word 'Edition.' I have never heard anyone attempt to abbreviate these in serious conversation.

The subsequent edition to First Edition is intermittently referred to as 'Second Edition,' 'Ayy Dee and Dee' (AD&D), both together as in "Second Edition AD&D," or quite rarely 'Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.'

Almost nobody actually says '3.5e' out loud.

Generally you just refer to this as 'third edition', since 3.5e was considerably longer lived and essentially the same, and generally people just know what you're talking about.

If you do need to disambiguate, the most common way to refer to it is 'three point five', leaving out the word 'edition.'

I have also heard, more rarely, 'Dungeons and Dragons Three point Fifth edition" (this is in no way proper English, but it gets the point across), or 'Dungeons and Dragons Three point Five edition,' which feels awkward to say but is correct and unambiguous. To say 'Dungeons and Dragons Three point Five Eee' or especially 'Dee and Dee Three point Five Eee' out loud feels like a you're making a joke, but it is clear and not confusing.

Also, FWIW, saying the name of D&D 3.5 in spoken English feels really weird to native speakers pretty much no matter how it comes out, so don't feel bad about having trouble figuring it out - it's super weird for us too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While your anecdotal answer is interesting to see how you and some others in your area pronounce it, this doesn't really answer the larger question - and we really don't want a list of answers with how others pronounce. That just turns this into opinion-based answers which we aren't looking for here. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 2 '20 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding this as a comment, as I suspect no one else does it this way. I state "WOTC D&D 5th ed." as there was a 5th ed. of D&D published by TSR. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 2 '20 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I would argue that for the question as posed, there is no source of absolute authority, and as such, said list would be both more accurate, and more useful to the asker and future askers than an unqualified assertion stated as if it were some objective truth. That might rule out the question as being one that belongs on the site, but I'd consider that somewhat of a shame, as it seems like a useful question to me. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 8 '20 at 20:18
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As "Five-E", or "fifth edition"

As far as I can tell, abbreviations like "4e" and "5e" are unofficial community abbreviations for use in text, and there is no official canonical pronunciation defined in the books. These abbreviations are almost never used in D&D sourcebooks. However, we can use online sources to get a good sense of what pronunciations are most common in the D&D community.

YouTube videos are a good source of information on how words are pronounced. In my experience, among native English speakers talking about Dungeons & Dragons in particular, "3e", "4e" and "5e" are written abbreviations for what is pronounced "third edition", "fourth edition", and "fifth edition", respectively, although I have also heard these pronounced as written: "three-E," "four-E", and "five-E". I have sometimes seen e.g. "third edition" shortened to "third ed".

I've never heard "3.5" pronounced in any other manner than "three point five" in English. "3.5e" I have heard pronounced less often, but "three point five E" is probably the most common, or occasionally "three point five edition"; however, these are longer and more cumbersome, so it's most commonly just called "three point five" in speech.

The examples given in Trish's answer, in regard to how Germans pronounce D&D edition names, I've never heard in English. I can't recall ever having heard "D&D three" (in English that would make it sound like a movie sequel) or "three-five"; in English, 3.5 is always said "three point five", read as it would be a number with a decimal point.

Examples from official sources

With these examples, I'll write the pronunciations of names as they are spoken.

WotC's Chris Perkins, interviewed in Between the Sheets: Christopher Perkins (1h40m):

I think by the end of fourth edition, there were 15,000 feats in the game.¹

Community sources

Five minutes into RollPlay Presents: a 5E Roundtable Discussion (EP1), Adam Koebel uses both short and long form, showing that both terms are used when spoken:

When we think about fifth edition particularly, fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons what is five-E about?

At twelve minutes, Matt Mercer says:

I grew up for many years playing A-D-and-D second edition, I played three point oh, three point five, Pathfinder, I've gone back since, I've played first edition .. I ran a fourth edition campaign for a couple of years.

Fourteen minutes, Adam Koebel:

I'm actually a big fan of four-E ... When you were developing five-E, were there any of those mechanics that felt less like points of inspiration and more like shackles?

Koebel particularly uses "five-E", but Matt Mercer uses it too around 1hr14m:

Speaking honestly, the ranger in the initial five-E release ...

Puffin Forest's D&D 4e was a game:

The fact that I started with fourth edition is very unusual. Most people either started with three-point-five, or they were later and began with fifth edition.

I played a few sessions of three-point-five at the same time when I was playing fourth edition.

Matt Colville's Using 4E to make 5E Combat more fun! uses the long form in speech:

If you are a fifth edition Dungeon Master—and you are ...

I would just steal a bard ability from fourth edition. I would steal this ability; I would steal something like Fast Friends, which is a cool fourth edition bard ability.

This is the text for how to grapple somebody in third edition. ... This is how grappling works in fourth edition. And, by the way, I think this is is basically how it works in fifth edition.

However, in a written comment, Matt uses the abbreviated form:

One common criticism of 4E is that it "discouraged roleplaying." Now, certainly we had LOTS of roleplaying in my 4E game.

You might also find a good cross-section of the D&D community by asking on an English-language D&D forum, where multiple people can tell you how they pronounce it.

¹ Out of interest, Perkins' figure is an exaggeration; there were only 3,271 feats in the D&D Compendium by the end of 4e.

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    \$\begingroup\$ aren't these just examples of how those youtubers pronounce it and nothing more? I'd also be pretty surprised that 3.5 is unanimously pronounced "three point five". \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 3 '20 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Seems to be backed up by this comment \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Sep 3 '20 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I disagree. YouTubers are a good representation of the English-speaking D&D community, and the most widely-available source of recordings of how the D&D community pronounces words. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3 '20 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still fairly certain that how English youtubers pronounce something is not canonical. Regardless of their audience or assumptions about their use being equivalent to how the some of the community pronounces words. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 3 '20 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard The crux of my answer is the first block ("this differs from game to game and area to area), which I illustrate by adding examples for 5 games based on my experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Sep 8 '20 at 9:48

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