For giving a research presentation, I will need to refer to papers with multiple authors. When citing in the slides, I use the convention (as does everyone else) of 'et al.' How should I pronounce this when speaking during the presentation? I don't speak French fluently, but I know that the French pronunciation is 'ai-taal'. I am not sure how this would be pronounced in the English speaking world. What is the conventional pronunciation of 'et al.' in presentations for English speakers/researchers?

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    I've heard it pronounced to rhyme with "bet ball" or "bet pal". I believe it's from Latin anyway, not French, so the French pronunciation isn't relevant. You can also simply say "and others", "and coauthors", "and collaborators", etc. – Nate Eldredge Jan 19 '16 at 19:34
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    In the U.S., the "bet pal" rhyming pattern sounds more correct to me. But for spoken language I'd probably go with "and coauthors". For a highly informal talk in front of a young, hip audience, you might consider other possibilities like "and the other dudes" (at least in case all coauthors are male). – Dan Romik Jan 19 '16 at 19:42
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    If you're going to speak Latin, at least use the correct Latin words: et alii/aliorum/alios/aliis, depending on case; or et aliae/aliarum/alias/aliis, respectively, if all the others are female; or et alia/aliorum/aliis/alia/alii, respectively, if all the others are robots. If you don't know which of those Latin words is correct, stick with "and coauthors". – JeffE Jan 19 '16 at 20:57
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    Also, it is not from French but from Latin: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/et_al.#Etymology_1 – user69715 Jan 20 '16 at 0:36
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    @JeffE Good of you to include robots, in case I ever need to give a talk about a SciGenned paper. But, given that people often say "e.g." ("ee-gee"), there's a precedent for pronouncing unexpanded abbreviated Latin and I don't see why that can't be applied to "et al." – David Richerby Jan 20 '16 at 2:54

The standard English pronunciation can be found in a dictionary, see, e.g., et al. at MacMillan dictionary.

However, during a presentation, instead of reading that abbreviation, it is probably nicer to say something like: "Smith and his/her group/coauthors/colleagues published the paper [...]".

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    I tend to prefer "and coworkers", rolls off the tongue better. The usage "and his/her group" should be used with some care, as often the usage denotes that Smith is the PI, which may not be the case. (Indeed, in many fields the PI goes last, so a collaboration that publishes under Smith et al. is unlikely to be referred to as "the Smith group" in such fields.) I know you know - just some pitfalls for the OP & future visitors to be aware of. – E.P. Jan 20 '16 at 2:01
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    +1 People read "i.e." as "that is" and "e.g." as "for example" (instead of reading out the letters or saying "id est" or "exempli gratia"), and I don't think "et al." should be treated any differently. – JiK Jan 20 '16 at 13:33
  • That MacMillan is a British pronunciation. If the rest of your presentation is given with a British accent, go ahead and use it. – GEdgar Nov 8 '17 at 2:14
  • I find this quite inappropriate. In many disciplines the authors are ordered alphabetically. By speculating that it is "Smith and their group" you imply that Smith is the main author, which is sometimes factually incorrect. – Dilworth May 30 at 16:14
  • @Dilworth In fact, I gave different options (coauthors, colleagues etc.) exactly for that reason: "Smith and his/her coauthors/colleagues/coworkers" does not imply any main author, and if the audience is composed of mathematicians they can certainly understand it the right way. If you have a better suggestion, please post it. – Massimo Ortolano May 30 at 16:44

I often just say "and others", "and friends", or just "Foo" for "Foo, et al.". People can see on the screen that there are others and refer to your references to see who those others are. No one is misled or confused if you drop the others in what you say aloud.

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    Not at all tongue-in-cheek, but this Foo chap gets a lot of papers out -- has anyone ever considered a special recognition award? ;) – Stuart Golodetz Jan 19 '16 at 21:52
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    @StuartGolodetz The award usually goes to Ibid. – Milo P Jan 19 '16 at 22:08
  • There's always someone better :) – Stuart Golodetz Jan 19 '16 at 23:57
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    @MiloPrice I dunno. That guy Al does write a lot of papers. Always as second author, too, which is kinda weird. – David Richerby Jan 20 '16 at 0:57
  • @DavidRicherby: Indeed. Ibid has an infinite average citation count and perhaps a higher overall impact than al, having written no papers at all but is massively cited. But they're both right up there. – Steve Jessop Jan 20 '16 at 10:31

Another solution, if there aren't that many authors, is simply to say all names out loud when presenting. In my field, where papers with more than 5 or so authors are uncommon, sometimes we would use "et al." to avoid having to fit more than one or two names on the slide, but the simplest is to say all names out loud when presenting. (And afterwards you can just say "they".)

Of course, this requires sufficient familiarity with the work to know off the top of your head the name of all these authors.

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The problem with "et al." is that, unlike "etc.," it changes depending on the gender of the other authors, which is not always easily apparent. There are actually three different forms (masculine, feminine, and gender neutral) meaning "and others" and an additional completely separate phrase also abbreviated "et al." that means "and elsewhere." One would argue you could just say the gender-neutral "et alia," but that is usually only supposed to refer to things without gender, not things with an unknown gender. Because of these complications and, as is often the case, an ignorance of the gender of the other people involved in the report, I would just pronounce it, "ett ahl."

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  • I don't get it: al. is a shortening, be it of aliī, aliae or even a single person (although that would be silly). – Nemo Jun 6 at 9:56

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