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To my ear, the former should be pronounced "vurb-ij" and the latter "fohl-ee-ij" (the endings may vary among "aj", "edge" and "ij").

I occasionally hear people say "vurb-ee-ij" and often hear "fohl-ij".

Are they interchangeable? Regional?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Merriam-Webster and my own experience, the three-syllable versions of both words are the "more proper" ones. While the two-syllable version of verbiage is quite common, I rarely hear foliage with only two syllables (but this could be regional; see below). M-W marks two-syllable pronunciations of foliage as "questionable". Here is an explanatory excerpt from M-W:

The disyllabic pronunciation \ˈfō-lij\ is very common. Some commentators insist that foliage requires a trisyllabic pronunciation because of its spelling, but words of a similar pattern such as carriage and marriage do not fall under their prescription. The pronunciation \ˈfȯi-lij\ is disapproved because it suggests the transposition of the l and i in the spelling. It is not as common as \ˈfō-lij\ and may be associated with the nonstandard spelling foilage.

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George W. Bush pronounces it \ˈfō-lij\. –  tajmo Jan 4 '12 at 23:59

I'd never heard foliage pronounced without the "i" until I moved from New Zealand to Australia. In Australia you never hear it with the "i" unless my wife and I are the ones saying it!

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In England, as often as I've heard those words used, they were always ee-aj or ee-ej (like age)at the end. So Verb-ee-aj or verb-ee-ej. Fol-ee-aj or fol-ee-ej.

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Seconded; I’d never heard the 2-syllable version of foliage before I moved to the US. –  PLL Feb 10 '11 at 20:14

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