3
votes
1answer
64 views

How to say “Castile”

I am from Castile, NY. As far as I can tell it is the only town in the USA with that name. We say the name like /kae-STAI-ol/, but I am aware that many people pronounce it like /kae-STEEL/. The name ...
3
votes
2answers
124 views

Please explain the pronunciation of “indict.”

The word indict is not pronounced as it is spelled (big shocker in English, right?). It looks like it should be pronounced in-dikt, but it is pronounced in-dite. Why is it pronounced like this? Are ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Do the words with non-palatalized pronunciation of g/c (“get”, “give”) always have a Germanic origin?

In English, ge/gi is sometimes pronounced as [ge]/[gi], but mostly as [dʒe]/[dʒi]. The second form is explained as palatalization in the topic What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C ...
2
votes
2answers
78 views

What is the origin of the word “What”?

Where does the word what come from? Why do we say wot when it's spelt the way it is?
0
votes
1answer
106 views

Pronunciation of the words 'height' and 'weight'

Why is "height" an "weight" pronounced differently, when the spellings are so similar? Is there any logical explanation or it evolved that way?
2
votes
5answers
164 views

Why is “agnostic” pronounced “ag-gnostic” as opposed to “a-gnostic”?

Gnosticism, for example, is obviously not pronounced with a hard g. As far as I know the modern English use of agnostic is said to have originated with Thomas Huxley, who surely would have been aware ...
0
votes
3answers
122 views

How can a written language develop with unspoken letters? [duplicate]

English is a language in which you write quite a few letters that you do not pronounce, or you write letters in one order and pronounce it in another. For example, centre. It is pronounced ...
0
votes
3answers
266 views

Rationale behind pronunciation of “subtle”

I've read pronunciation, yet I'm still irresolute about the exposition/logic behind the pronunciation of subtle. Why is the b not pronounced? subtle = subtil(e) in French, in which the b is ...
-1
votes
3answers
477 views

Why does English spoken by a native Spanish speaker sounds pleasant but not so pleasant when spoken by a native Indian/Arabic/Chinese? [closed]

When in fact, both are non-English speakers and are at same level of understanding of English language. Could there be any etymological reason behind this? Added later- As i can see, people are not ...
-1
votes
1answer
128 views

Why don’t “snow” and “plow” — well, or “plough” — rhyme? [duplicate]

They (sometimes?) have the same ending when spelt but don’t rhyme when said. Why is that?
1
vote
0answers
445 views

Why are Kansas and Arkansas pronounced differently? [closed]

Arkansas is typically pronounced like so: “ahr-kuhn-saw”   IPA: [ˈɑɹkənˌsɔː] However, Kansas is typically pronounced like this: “kan-zuhs”             IPA: [ˈkænzɨs] Why are these two ...
10
votes
1answer
770 views

Etymology and pronunciation of arch-, archi-

The prefix arch-, archi- “chief, principal; extreme, ultra; early, primitive,” derives from Latinized Greek arkh-, arkhi-, the combining form of arkhos “chief.” Usually, arch- is pronounced like ...
3
votes
1answer
472 views

Why is the “a” in “have” a short a sound?

As far as I'm aware, every word of the form consonant-a-v-e has a long a sound - cave, Dave, fave, gave, lave, nave, pave, rave, save and wave - every word except have. What is the story behind this ...
1
vote
1answer
332 views

Pronunciation and meaning: “wind” and “wound”

I find it curious that there exist two words spelt wind ("a breeze" vs. "to turn") and two words spelt wound ("an injury" vs. the past participle of wind), and that the words in each pair are ...
1
vote
1answer
189 views

Incorrectly transliterated foreign words that have been improved [closed]

Seeking a list of several foreign words (usually names, but any noun) that have been borrowed from other languages, but originally transliterated/pronounced incorrectly and are now being improved into ...
9
votes
2answers
599 views

Why is “poison” in English pronounced so differently from French “poison”?

Why is poison in English pronounced so astonishingly differently than the French pronunciation of poison? Considering that they have exactly the same origin. Is it just randomness or is it on purpose ...
3
votes
2answers
405 views

Character vs Charm - Pronunciation

Is there a rule to understand how the group "Cha" has to be pronounced? "Character" sounds with a hard first syllable, while "Charm" sound softer, but I don't find how to tell which sound to use ...
6
votes
1answer
645 views

Where does “wicked” get its /ɪd/ from?

There are three ways I know to pronounce the -ed at the end of an adjective: /t/ as in cracked. /d/ as in lined. /ɪd/ as in naked I realise naked is a special case because, as etymonline states, ...
2
votes
1answer
481 views

Pronunciation of onomatopoeia, pharmacopoeia, etc

Words such as onomatopoeia and pharmacopoeia incorporate the Greek suffix -poeia, meaning to make or to prepare. Wiktionary's provided etymology for onomatopoeia reads: From Ancient Greek ...
-2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the origin of the “should of” instead of “should have” mistake? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How did the use of “could of” and “should of” originate, and is it considered correct? Recently, I tend to stumble a lot over the mistake that people write should of ...
6
votes
2answers
249 views

How did “invoice” end up with an 's'-sound?

The Etymonline entry for invoice states (source): apparently from M.Fr. envois, pl. of envoi "dispatch (of goods)," Although my French is pretty poor, my understanding is that the 's' is silent. ...
7
votes
2answers
548 views

When does the name prefix “Mc” take stress?

Mc (or Mac) is often used as a prefix in Gaelic-derived names. In one class containing most such names, prefixing Mc does not affect the position of the accent somewhere on the base name. Thus Mc is ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

How did the pronunciation of the word “derby” evolve?

Brits say "dar-bee" for both the town and the race, but Americans pronounce it as it's spelled. Did Brits used to say "der-bee" too and that's why it's spelled that way but they changed over time? ...
5
votes
1answer
846 views

Why is the verb form of “record” pronounced [ri-kawrd] but the noun form is pronounced [rek-erd]?

Is there a different origin of pronunciation style for record as a verb and as a noun? Fun fact: in OS X, if you type say "this record" and say "record this" — the text to speech system picks up the ...
5
votes
3answers
463 views

The term 'vocal fry': where does it come from?

On a recent Language Log posting Vocal fry: "creeping in" or "still here"?, Mark Liberman discusses an (also) recent article about the phenomenon of 'vocal fry' and shows how it has been around for ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What makes a word offensive?

Whilst I was sat on the bus yesterday, I overheard a group of teenagers discussing various things. As per the usual social requirement at that age, every 5th word was an expletive. Not exactly the ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin and pronunciation of “Thawte”

Working in the IT industry I often have to use the word Thawte - the name of a company and its certificates. What is the origin of this word and its correct pronunciation? Does it have its own meaning ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Why isn't “muscle” pronounced “muskle”?

It comes from the Latin musculus (meaning mouse) and Latin has only hard c's. The "c" has somehow become soft or silent during evolution. Why did this happen? Also, if muscle is pronounced mussle, ...
7
votes
2answers
534 views

Where did “sorry” get its vowel sound?

Sorry has two pronunciations in my dictionary: ˈsärē and ˈsôrē. The first is the one I am interested in because, as someone pointed out to me, the or pattern in English is nearly always pronounced as ...
6
votes
2answers
603 views

Why is “eye” pronounced so strangely?

This is either a spelling or a pronunciation anomaly; I'm not sure which. Why is "eye" pronounced as the letter "I"?
2
votes
2answers
628 views

How is “winded” pronounced in “he winded a horn”?

Either "wɪnd" or "waɪnd" is acceptable, according to Dictionary.com, but merely being acceptable doesn't satisfy me. "Wɪnd" seems better to me, due to the connotation of blowing wind, etc, but ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is “bade” pronounced “bad”?

Dictionary.com doesn't even allow for the pronunciation "beyd", which is how I thought it was pronounced until very recently. Forbade is similarly pronounced, though the dictionary generously gives ...
8
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is “plaid” pronounced “plad”?

Why is there an 'ai' in plaid if it is pronounced "plad"? That's a word that used to trip me up when I was a little tyke. (This time, unlike my previous question, I hope I'm right in saying that ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is “great” pronounced as “grate”, but spelled with “ea”?

Great is one of the few common English words in which "ea" is pronounced /eɪ/ (ay). Why is this pronunciation associated with this spelling? As an aside, I remember from researching for my answer to ...
9
votes
1answer
6k views

Why is “victuals” pronounced “vittles”?

This doesn't make sense to me. Is it just laziness?
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “bream” pronounced as “brim”?

Every time I catch an Acanthopagrus australis, commonly known as a yellowfin bream, I wonder why its name is prounced "brim", (as in the same way you would pronounce the brim of a hat). ...
3
votes
2answers
661 views

Origins of English Double-C Pronunciations

Looking into Pronunciation of double consonants, turned up an apparent rule for pronouncing a double-C in English that seems to parallel the Italian rule for pronouncing a single C. If the "cc" is ...
5
votes
2answers
8k views

Is the -re “supposed” to be silent in the pronunciation of “macabre”?

Is the "-re" supposed to be silent in the pronunciation of the word macabre? I'm aware that dictionaries give two pronunciations, \məkäb\ and \mekäbrə\, but is one of them just a fixed "error" of the ...
6
votes
3answers
798 views

What was the original sound of rh?

The subject more or less says it all. I would like to know how rh (as in rhythm) was originally pronounced. It is listed as being something which was originally present in Latin, but, in Latin, "h" is ...
7
votes
1answer
788 views

Bow vs Bow - etymology of the differing pronunciation

OED states that both "a bow" as in the weapon and "to bow" or "a bow" as in to incline at the knee share a common etymology: Etymology: Common Germanic: Old English boga, corresponding to Old ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

Is the “-b” to be pronounced in the word “limb”? What about “thumb”? “Crumb”?

I'm confused about the differing pronunciations of words that end in "-b". For example, I remember being told by some of earliest teachers that the "-b" in limb was meant to be silent, and one ...
-6
votes
2answers
357 views

Does the word “amen” have anything to do with men? Which is the correct pronunciation? [closed]

I don't understand how the word amen was coined by breaking it down to what I presume to be its constituents, a- and men. It seems to be a phrase of affirmation — I don't see what men has ...
14
votes
3answers
818 views

Why is “Chop Gate” pronounced so strangely?

I was passing through the hamlet of Chop Gate (in North Yorkshire) the other day, and heard it referred to as "chop yat" (tʃɒp yæt). This source here concurs with that pronunciation. Does anyone know ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Different ways to pronounce “augh”

In the word laugh, it is pronounced "aff". In the word naught, it is pronounced "aw". Are there any other ways to pronounce "augh"? Bonus points for etymology explaining from where these ...
8
votes
2answers
492 views

Pronunciation: ‘lousy’ vs. ‘mousy’. Why?

Inspired by comments on Proper use of the word “lousy”?: The word lousy is traditionally pronounced with a /z/ sound, as though it were louzy.* Contrastingly, the word mousy is always pronounced ...
22
votes
7answers
10k views

Why is “primer” pronounced with a short “i” sound?

This word—used to mean an elementary textbook, not a painting material—annoys me to no end. Does anyone know why, exactly, "primer" is pronounced with a short "i" sound? I don't know why, call it ...
20
votes
6answers
16k views

Why is the “ph” pronounced like a “v” in “Stephen”? Is this the only word like that?

While I know how my name is pronounced, I've run into many non-native english speakers who have stumbled over this unique exception to English. Even in the female name, "Stephanie", the ph is ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does “ow” have two different sounds

Why is it that the "ow" in now makes the aʊ sound while "ow" in snow makes the oʊ sound? Has this always been, was it spelled differently and then changed, or was it spelled this way but the sound ...
20
votes
4answers
11k views

Why are there two pronunciations for “either”?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an individual who told me that pronouncing the word "either" is wrong when pronounced like \ˈī-thər\ instead of \ˈē-thər\ , but I didn't argue the point ...