This tag is for questions about the sounds, intonation, and stress of how words are uttered or produced.

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12
votes
7answers
6k views

British pronunciation of “plait”

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

How do native speakers guess the pronunciation of a word that they've never seen before? [closed]

How do native speakers guess the pronunciation of a word that they've never seen before ? Is there a general rule for that ? For example, someone said : Words that end in -ic or -tion will be ...
3
votes
3answers
268k views

Difference Between “Sell” and “Sale”?

I'm a copy editor at a law firm and need to give a quick-and-dirty explanation of the difference between "sell" and "sale" to a native English speaker (a legal secretary) who is very self-conscious ...
9
votes
2answers
536 views

History of pronunciation of “moiety”

Wiktionary shows the pronunciation of moiety as /ˈmɔɪ.ə.ti/, which I think agrees with the audio versions at merriam-webster.com and howjsay.com. (Be warned that both those links produce audio when ...
4
votes
3answers
960 views

Difference in starting pronunciations of “station” and “sun”

Why do some English speakers have different starting pronunciations of station and sun? Station is pronounced as e-station while sun simply as sun. Is the difference due to the fact that the second ...
83
votes
27answers
8k views

How to read “E = (mc)²” so as not to mistake for “E = mc²”

According to one of the questions already asked on EL&U, “E = mc²” is read as E equals M C squared. How do we read “E = (mc)²” so that it is not mistaken for “E = mc²”?
0
votes
2answers
685 views

Origin of pronunciation of “I”

When I began to study English in my high school (Moscow Institute of Applied Physics) I could not believe our teacher (or tutor?) that the English pronounce it as /aɪ/. I was all of shocked. In school ...
22
votes
7answers
142k views

How is “æ” supposed to be pronounced?

The Encyclopædia Brittanica still uses the symbol "æ". However, I still hear everyone pronounce it as "Encyclo pee dia", when their spelling suggests more along the lines of "Encyclo pah dia" or ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Pronunciation of “xeno-”

I actually want to present this question in two parts: 1) First of all, xenos comes from ξένος. Nevertheless, it is pronounced with "z" instead of "ks" (/ks/). How come? 2) Let's take the word ...
4
votes
4answers
8k views

Pronunciation of “quasi-”

How is the prefix "quasi-" pronounced? Are there any situations (e.g. depending on the word it prefixes or is part of) in which it would be pronounced differently?
3
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the differences in pronunciation of “borrow”, “burrow” and “burro” in American English?

What are the differences in pronunciation of "borrow", "burrow" and "burro" in American English? To me they all sound quite the same, especially when spoken quickly.
1
vote
3answers
7k views

Is there any convention for pronouncing proper nouns?

Is there any convention as to how proper nouns with origins outside English should be pronounced? I have heard claims to the effect that "a proper noun can be pronounced however you wish"; is that ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Difference in [ə] pronunciation at the end of a word in British and American English

I grew up speaking American English (San Diego to be specific). When I hear someone who speaks British English say a word that ends in [ə], like banana, I hear a weak but distinct 'r' sound attached ...
-5
votes
0answers
177 views

What indefinite article (“a” or “an”) should be used before “x” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word X-Ray? I understand that the decision between "a" and "an" is generally based on what vowel sound the following ...
-1
votes
1answer
272 views

Use of holier-than-thou phrase [closed]

Can I use the phrase (new to me) holier-than-thou like don't give holier-than-thou attitude. And what is more possibilities of using this phrase? What is the correct pronunciation of the phrase? ...
4
votes
6answers
3k views

How to pronounce “worried”?

I have no idea whatsoever about IPA, so I apologise now for any ambiguity or difficult-to-understand-ness in this question. Me and a friend both disagree on the correct pronunciation of "worried". I ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do we pronounce Dean as /diːn/ but Sean as /ʃɒn/? [duplicate]

The following words which end with an ean are pronounced as /*i:n/ whereas Sean is pronounced as /ʃɒn/: bean, dean, lean, mean... Why is Sean not pronounced as /si:n/ but as /ʃɒn/? Where does ...
4
votes
4answers
84k views

How Many Diphthongs Are There In English?

I was talking to a person who said that there were only two. I think she said that the "ou" in house is one of the two. I told her that the way the letter "i" is pronounced is a diphthong, and she ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Are “traitor” and “trader” pronounced the same?

Are "traitor" and "trader" distinguishable when spoken with any English accent? My English-speaking friends seem to pronounce them exactly the same way.
12
votes
10answers
36k views

What is the correct pronunciation of the word “processes”?

What is the correct pronunciation of the word processes because in my company some say it as "process-eez" and some say it "process-ess"? I am confused, because my mother tongue is not English.
5
votes
4answers
584 views

Why is “Rosen Plevneliev” pronounced with a /z/?

As I have told you in my previous question, I have heard the CBS news about the Bulgarian president visiting the US here. I don't know why, but the way the reporter has pronounced his name makes me ...
1
vote
1answer
516 views

Reading of the article “an” preceding quotations

Speakers often add “quote” or “quote, unquote” before quotations. But when a quotation is preceded by the article “an”, how should that article be pronounced? As I understand, the choice between “a” ...
2
votes
2answers
497 views

How common is the short “be” in American English

A friend prompted me to look up the pronunciations of the homophones "be" (IPA: /bi/, /biː/) and "bee" (IPA: /biː/). We found that there are two ways to say "be" -- one is short and the other (the ...
6
votes
2answers
299 views

“Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty?”

This is the prelude to an article published in Sports Illustrated magazine on August 17, 1959: Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty? Hoecake? ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Pronunciation of “candidate”

Dictionaries generally show two pronunciations for the word candidate: /ˈkændɪˌdeɪt/ and /ˈkændɪdət/. Macmillan dictionary shows both are used in either American or British English. So does Oxford ...
2
votes
2answers
241 views

The pronunciation of “'ll” in spoken English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Pronunciation of “'ll” Trying to understand completely how "'ll" should be pronounced in spoken English, I uploaded a part of AJ Hoge lesson. You can ...
4
votes
1answer
6k views

Are there any rules in grammar as to why the letter 'r' is silent in some words?

How do I know when to keep r silent in pronunciation? Examples: Not silent cry free friend Silent German iron learn
7
votes
1answer
12k 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? ...
2
votes
1answer
150 views

Pronunciation of the word “reduct” as a noun [closed]

How should I pronounce the word reduct as a noun?
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Pronunciation of letter y: asylum vs syrup

I want someone to clarify if there is a rule about how to pronounce the letter Y I've read in another stackexchange post that when it is in a Greek-origin word it is pronounced as uh e.g. analysis, ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Is “haphazard” a unique word?

Is haphazard the only word where ph is not pronounced like /f/?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

The pronunciation of “… no matter how minute” vs “5 minutes past the hour” [closed]

I was just checking dictionary.com and the pronunciation of "minute" doesn't seem to change in these two setences: It is five minutes past the hour. I'll take any change, no matter how minute. ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the correct pronunciation of “February”? [closed]

Please tell how do we correctly pronounce the word February. Though common pronunciation should be Feb-RU-ary, in some dictionaries it is Feb-U-ary where the first "r" is dropped. Which one is ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is a Scot's accent so difficult for Americans to understand? [closed]

When I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, the locals could understand me just fine, but I was flummoxed by their accent, which did not remotely sound like English to me. Necessity forced me to request that ...
0
votes
1answer
427 views

Pronunciation of “'ll”

How do I read the following sentences (especially in conversational speech)? The dog'll eat the bones. Tom'll go to school. Anna'll come tomorrow. I mean the sound of 'll.
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Which syllable is stressed in the word “nineteen”?

The dictionaries list both possibilities to stress nineteen (or any other -teen, for that matter): ,nine-teen and nine-'teen. Are the two pronunciations completely interchangeable, a matter of ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“Lambast” or “lambaste”

I looked up both lambast and lambaste in several dictionaries, but came up with no conclusions about which one is AE and which BE (if this distinction can ever be made). Moreover, the different ...
1
vote
3answers
4k views

The correct pronunciation of the last vowel in words “a priori” and “a posteriori”

English.SE, Hi, first time being here. I have had this confusion about the pronunciation of "a priori" and "a posteriori" for a long time, normally I just read the last vowel as /i/, however today my ...
1
vote
8answers
2k views

Is there a difference between “bitter” and “better” in pronunciation?

I was wondering if there was any difference between "bitter" and "better" in pronunciation? My assumption is that one is pronounced with a soft "d" as in "better" and the other one with a hard "t" as ...
0
votes
5answers
2k views

Correct pronunciation of “career”

Is it car-rear? Or, is it carry-er? The word is very commonly used among Japanese with the same meaning, and we say it like carry-er, which I suppose is wrong.
1
vote
2answers
504 views

Correct pronunciation of “Can”

How to correctly pronounce word "can" in British English and in American English? Here's somehow related answer but it is more about differences between "can" and "can't", and I'm interested how to ...
9
votes
2answers
111k views

Why do British people pronounce “Ibiza” as “Ibitha”?

My brief overseas experience in Great Britain has taught me that British people tend to pronounce Ibiza as Ibitha. My questions are as follows: Why is this the case? How did this develop? What are ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Usage of sound /ʒ/ in English (not /dʒ/) [closed]

I'm trying to explain to an English speaker how to pronounce the letter j in French, and was looking for cases where it appears in English. It seems that j is almost always pronounced /dʒ/. Examples ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Do Americans pronounce “Ellen” and “Alan” in the same way?

Do Americans pronounce "Ellen" and "Alan" in the same way? I am especially concerned with the first vowel. EDIT: Here is a quote that may be a case in point: Being a Brit also, the names "Ellen" ...
2
votes
3answers
431 views

Are “rode” and “rowed” pronounced the same?

Is there an English accent which would distinguish these two sentences? He rode from the bridge to the pier. He rowed from the bridge to the pier.
2
votes
5answers
762 views

How to pronunce the suffix “-less”

I know how to pronounce less. But in words with the suffix -less, it sometimes sounds like /lis/, other times like /les/. Which is true?
-4
votes
4answers
3k views

It's not proper.. no such thing as “unseeming(ing)ly”? [closed]

I'll keep it simple, as I've learned - the hard way - that schtick does NOT go over well, around here. So.... unseemly |ˌənˈsēmlē| adj. (of behavior or actions) not proper or appropriate: an ...
26
votes
4answers
37k views

Why does “bass” sound like “base”?

Why is bass pronounced like base? If bass sounds like base, why isn't ass pronounced as (nearly) ace instead?
1
vote
3answers
12k views

How do you pronounce “mayor”?

I have been split between two pronunciations of "mayor". Most of the people I talk to pronounce it "mair" (like the horse). But if you look on Dictionary.com the main pronunciation is "mey-er". I ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

First or second syllable accent for “detail”?

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 ...