Take the 2-minute tour ×
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.

I used to pronounce 'detail' as ['di:teil] with accent on the first syllable. However, these days I hear people (and on the radio) say [di'teil] with accent on the second syllable. Is my pronunciation incorrect? Is there a regional preference for this?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to Merriam-Webster, your pronunciation is fine as both are acceptable to convey the usual noun and verb form meanings of the word.

According to this American, /ˈdiːteɪl/ is far more common from the mouths of my fellow Americans.

Macmillan has the British as /ˈdiːteɪl/, and the American as both /dɪˈteɪl/ and /ˈdiˌteɪl/.

share|improve this answer
3  
In British English, /dɪˈteɪl/ is a verb, meaning to remove the tail from. –  FumbleFingers Apr 3 '12 at 18:21
1  
I was hoping that was the case. M-W does not offer this definition. Thanks for saving me some virtual shoe leather. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 3 '12 at 18:22
    
Yeah, well you'll have to wait for some Americans to upvote the answer (always assuming it's true they really do put the accent on the second syllable when they mean a small point). I'm not saying they don't, obviously, but I don't, so I can't casually upvote you saying both are fine. –  FumbleFingers Apr 3 '12 at 18:27
    
I don't know which is more common here in north middle US, but think that it's often said with relatively little accent on either syllable. –  jwpat7 Apr 3 '12 at 19:04
    
@jwpat7: in AmE, I find it to be an accent on both, a spondee. –  Mitch Apr 3 '12 at 20:34
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.