Questions about vowels in English.

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22
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3answers
2k views

Why do written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies?

Written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies. Consider what the written vowels in the romance languages represent. Also, for example, consider this simple comparision between a ...
22
votes
6answers
27k views

When is “Y” a vowel?

Today's XKCD got me thinking about when the letter Y is considered to be a vowel. I understand (perhaps incorrectly) that in words like bicycle and why it is a vowel. What about the word voyeur (as ...
34
votes
9answers
11k views

How are 'marry', 'merry', and 'Mary' pronounced differently?

The way I pronounce these words is the same. Similarly for other words like these: I pronounce ferry and fairy the same, carrot and caret. Yet, dictionaries show different pronunciations for these ...
5
votes
7answers
3k views

The + vowel sound

I've been told that when "the" is proceeded by a vowel sound, like "apple" or "hour", it's pronounced as "thee" and not as "thu". But after listening to a couple of songs, I noticed that sometimes ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is “go” spelled with the same vowel as “do” and “to” since it is pronounced differently?

These two-letter words ending in -o are pronounced with the vowel /oʊ/: bo, go ho, jo, lo, no, so, and yo whereas do and to are pronounced with the vowel /uː/. Is there an explanation for the ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

New Zealand pronunciation of “women” vs “woman”

I have read in a number of places that the NZ pronunciation of "women" must be rather peculiar. Quoting from just one such place: For some years I've noted the tendency of Kiwis to pronounce ...
15
votes
4answers
5k views

Pronunciation of “er” in “farmer” vs. “earth”

I'm confused about the difference in pronouncing "er" in words such as "farmer" and "earth". I hear them the same, but they have different phonetic symbols. Is there any difference in pronouncing "er" ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Is the 'w' in 'cow' a vowel or a consonant?

Is the w in cow a vowel or a consonant? Assuming it is considered a vowel, would it likewise be so in how? I learned that the vowels are "a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y." If w can be a vowel, what ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

Waiteen for waiting

While it's reasonably common for people to drop the g in words such as waiting, hating, and dating, I seem to be stumbling upon a number of Americans additionally drawing out the final syllable of ...
7
votes
2answers
812 views

Last names that are English words with an extra 'e'

I noticed that there are a lot of last names that have an 'e' at the end. The pronunciation usually isn't changed from that of the base word. Poole Steele Browne Clarke Why do English words not ...
40
votes
3answers
22k views

What is the plural form of “zero”?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
11
votes
2answers
39k views

Is “imbedded” a valid spelling of the word “embedded”?

I have seen this used on our marketing materials: The technology imbedded in this solution will help improve productivity. I was going to flag it as a spelling error, however Googling provided ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Why did 'y' disappear as an internal vowel in English spelling?

Why did the character 'y' disappear in favor of 'i' in English spelling? I've often noticed this replacement when merchants try to sell or advertise something as archaic or old-timey, writing wife as ...
5
votes
2answers
7k views

Any rule for pronouncing “e”?

I hear three different sounds for the letter e in precious, bean, and Peru. Is there a rule that covers the different pronunciations that a written letter e can represent in speech?
4
votes
2answers
677 views

Pronunciation of Bank, Tank, etc.: Bay-nk, Ray-nk or Baen-k or Raen-k?

What is the standard US pronunciation for words such as the following: Bank Rank At least in my dialect of US English (Inland Northern), the following seem like close transcriptions: Bank: ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

The proper way to say “Mocha” the coffee drink

I have noticed that most of the time when I go to Starbucks and order a mocha, the cashier doesn't seem to understand unless I repeat it. I am trying to think why is that the case since it is a very ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

The pronunciation of “ate”

I was talking to some friends and I said "I ate (/et/) chocolate yesterday...". Then my friend corrected me: "you ate (/eit/) chocolate...". I repeated my sentence with the /eit/ pronunciation and we ...
1
vote
1answer
139 views

The pronunciation of 'Hawaii'

Apparently some parts of the US routinely pronounce the name of our island state as 'Hawaya.' At first, I thought this was just incorrect, but apparently it's a regional usage. Where do they call it ...
1
vote
2answers
544 views

What is the i with a dot on top and dot on bottom called?

I was watching a foreign film and I saw a "i" with a dot on the top as usual and a dot on the bottom. What is it called and is there a way I can find it and type it? More details: It was a ...
0
votes
2answers
890 views

Long vs. short vowels in English words of Latin origin

Is there any way to determine if a vowel is short or long in English words of Latin origin? I've noticed that u is usually long in Latin words (e.g., Jupiter) but what about other vowels?