Sign up ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Finite and infinite come from the same root word, but the prefix of the latter completely changes the pronunciation. Speaking English as a second-language and reading a lot more than I listen, it makes me nervous that I might be missing other such changes.

Is this an isolated occurrence?

share|improve this question
I haven't checked out the whole list, but a brief skim here didn't throw up anything else) – Benjol Feb 17 '11 at 10:10
@Andy: I saw that one, but found no additional examples. – user4727 Feb 17 '11 at 11:11
No, you're right, I skimmed through as well and couldn't find any other examples. I just wanted to suggest it as related reading. – Andy F Feb 17 '11 at 11:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If I read your question correctly, you are looking for examples of words that change pronunciation because of prefixes. Another example would be famous (ˈfā-məs) and infamous (ˈin-fə-məs).

I don't know what this phenomenon is called, but it can also apply to other derivations from the same word; for instance, house (haʊs) and houses (ˈhaʊzɪz), (or the verb house (haʊz)), photograph (ˈfō-tə-ˌgraf) and photographer (fə-ˈtä-grə-fər).

share|improve this answer

Another example of word that changes pronunciation because a prefix is belief, which is pronounced /bəˈlif/ or /biˈlif/ in American English, and where the prefix un- changes the pronunciation to /ˌənbəˈlif/.

share|improve this answer
I thought it was /bəˈliːf/ in AmE and /bɪˈliːf/ in BrE. – Tragicomic Feb 17 '11 at 13:22
The pronunciations I reported are the ones NOAD reports as American English pronunciations. – kiamlaluno Feb 17 '11 at 13:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.