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Having only seen this word in writing, I assumed it's pronounced "plate". howjsay (whose author is british) suggests the pronunciation that rhymes with "flat", but also offers the "plate" one. This thread, however, has several people who perceive the "plate" pronunciation to be completely wrong.

So how would most people say this in the UK? Is it "plat", and would people in the UK consider the "plate" pronunciation wrong? Does it vary by location within the UK?

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7 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

If it's the word that describes the way in which hair is sometimes bound together, twisting three strands one over the other, then it rhymes with flat in British pronunciation.

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And you would find the "plate" pronunciation jarring, correct? –  romkyns Jun 24 '12 at 19:06
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@romkyns: Not jarring, just unusual. –  Barrie England Jun 24 '12 at 19:29
    
From an American perspective, I don't hear the noun much, so "plat" doesn't sound that odd. But Americans do use the verb, and the pronunciation "platted" sounds really strange. –  Peter Shor Sep 10 '13 at 12:23
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http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/plait_1?q=plait

Indeed, it seems that the UK pronunciation rhymes with "flat" and the US one with "plate"

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The witch had a cat
And a very tall hat
And long ginger hair
Which she wore in a plait.

Julia Donaldson - Room on the Broom

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Yeah, see, that poem just doesn't work for me. Also, if you're supposed to say "plat", what the hell is that 'i' doing in there? –  Marthaª May 20 '13 at 15:42
    
@Marthaª You would love the London pronunciation of Plaistow (Plar-). –  Andrew Leach May 20 '13 at 15:49
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@Marthaª: The same thing the 'i' is doing in "fashion" and "cushion" and "juice" and "suit". You cannot deduce English pronunciation from the way a word is spelled. –  Matt Sep 10 '13 at 11:23
    
@Marthaª If you try to figure out why words are pronounced how they are, your brain will implode. The English town of Woolfardisworthy is pronounced "wools-ree". –  Tortoise Sep 12 '13 at 1:05
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Yes, everyone I know in the UK pronounces it to rhyme with "flat" and I find it VERY irritating to hear it pronounced "plate"... which makes listening to American audiobooks an interesting experience.

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I was just listening to "I'm A Boy" by The Who, and the word occurs in that song. The singer, an Englishman, pronounced in like "flat".

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I am Scottish and I used the word plaits a lot as I wore my hair in plaits when young. The Scottish proniunciation 50 years ago was 'plets' as in 'lets'.

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Influenced by ye olde French spelling apparently is the reason for different pronunciation on this word in UK Brit Speak

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What olde French spelling? The OED says that the two different pronunciations were around before English spelling was fixed. For example, from Shakespeare we have "Her haire nor loose nor ti'd in formall plat." But there are also spellings reflecting the pronunciation plate form the same time period. Do you have a reference for this? –  Peter Shor Nov 18 '13 at 20:49
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protected by Marthaª Nov 18 '13 at 15:41

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