How is "banal" properly pronounced in British English?

I know three ways to pronunciate banal but I don't know how to write them here.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition) has "/bəˈnɑːl/, older /ˈbeɪnəl/." – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 13 '13 at 1:57
  • @Cerberus: I don't think I've ever heard that "older" version, so it would surprise me if that were one of the three ways OP claims to know (until now, I only knew one). – FumbleFingers Dec 13 '13 at 2:07
  • How do you define "proper pronunciation"? – Kris Dec 13 '13 at 6:31

I'm a Brit and I say b'narl. Not rhyming with canal (short 'a's), nor banorl (all), and definitely never rhyming with anal.

Unfortunately I've no sound on my machine at the moment so I can't listen to Ledda's links.

How does this site pronounce it?

  • 3
    It says /bə'nɑl/, American /bəˈnæl/. The first is how you said you say it, the second rhymes with canal. By the way, I made a mistake. The second rhymes with darl, how you say it. – Ledda Dec 13 '13 at 0:27
  • In general Hiberno-English pronunciation, we'd say it to rhyme with canal, but with even stress on both syllables, rather than stres on the second (like in the linked version). Know OP is asking about British English, but just said I'd mention it for contrast purposes (& to point out that rhyming with canal could be with with even stress) – anotherdave Dec 13 '13 at 0:36

After looking in a lot of dictionaries, there definitely seems to be a lot of disagreement in the pronunciation, or at least a lot of variation.

/bəˈnæl, -ˈnɑl, ˈbeɪnl/ seem to be the three I keep seeing.

That is, the first will rhyme with canal, the second with darl, and the last with anal.




I think the most interesting here is the pronunciation on Leo, which is clearly said by a native Brit. It's also the closest to the German pronunciation, although I believe the etymology is French, in which case it is pronounced almost the same.


This link has sound recordings of both American and English pronunciations of banal http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/banal?q=banal#

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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