In Australian English (non-rhotic) the word "air" is pronounced /eː/, in Canadian English (rhotic) it is pronounced /ɛɹ/ and most other dialects pronounce it as somewhere between those two. All the words I know of with that sound have an "r" as part of the spelling of the sound, e.g. hair, care, there, bear, aeroplane. Are there any words which have the same sound where the spelling does not include an "r"?

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    As far as I am aware, [e:] is not phonemic in any dialect of English: the only place where it occurs at all is as the phonetic realisation of /ɛə/, which is basically Antipodean and South African English. Some dialects of Scottish, however, do pronounce /e/ as [e̞], rather than [ɛ], in some contexts, and also lengthen stressed vowels in some contexts, so that better is pronounced very close to [be̞:tər], which is almost the same sound. Commented May 10, 2014 at 13:29
  • And I believe some American dialects pronounce /eɪ/ as a monophthong before a voiceless consonant, so you get wait [wet] but wade [weɪd]. Commented May 10, 2014 at 14:32

3 Answers 3



This is the only word I could think of/find online with the same pronunciation that isn't spelt with an 'r'. There are a lot of different endings with this pronunciation, but this is the only one which ends with "-eah". (There are probably more words with the sound in the middle, but it was harder to search for them.)

Maybe it's not a coincidence that the only word which doesn't have this pronunciation because of a non-rhotic accent is an interjection!

  • Good example! In my accent "yeah" certainly does rhyme with "air". I may use this as a teaching example: "In Australian accents an 'r' is only sounded if it's followed by a vowel sound. Otherwise, it modifies the sound of the vowel just before it. So 'air' is pronounced the same as the end of 'y eah'." Otherwise, it's tricky to explain non-rhotic accents using examples. I think that this is so uncommon that there are unlikely to be any more examples that most people would be familiar with.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 6:48
  • I'd recommend checking that explanation of non-rhoticity on the Linguistics site... I would explain it more in terms of syllable boundaries than whether it's followed by a vowel or not. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 6:51
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    Imagine teaching someone from India whose native language always sounds spelt "r"s. To them it would be confusing why Australians apparently randomly don't pronounce "r"s in words spelt with them. A 99% accurate explanation is better than "I don't know, you'll just have to learn them all as exceptions". Can you give me any examples where the rule as I've stated it doesn't work? car - [kaː], car alarm [kaː.ɹəlaːm] (the "r" from "car" is attached to the first "a" from "alarm" but the "r" in "alarm" is not voiced). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_English_phonology#Consonants
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 7:13
  • Fair enough, I guess it's a stronger rule than I would've expected. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 7:24
  • FWIW, in standard American English, the vowel of "yeah" is /æ/, the same as in "cat".
    – nohat
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 8:26

I'm answering under the assumption you're talking about /eə/ as shown here.

I haven't encountered any words without the r spelling pronounced this way in general, but I have in some American accents. I've heard words like ma'am and damn said this way in particular.

I hadn't heard the term before, but Google came up with "æ tensing", and a good bit of information about it.


No such thing as an "American accent" to the poster other than me who had written that.

The reason why is because the United States houses millions of people, most of which are from different backgrounds and cultures too.

Anyways, some words to answer O.P.'s question are "echo," "echolalia," "echondriac," and even "echelons".

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    This is a good answer for many American accents (not all), but the poster is asking about Australian. Commented May 10, 2014 at 13:12
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    Do not mistake /e/ for /ɛ/.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 13:13
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    None of the words provided here contains /e:/ or even /e/. Commented May 10, 2014 at 13:18
  • @tchrist: the poster is asking for a word that contains the same vowel as fared. In many American accents, fed works (although they're both /ɛ/ and not /e/), which is why I said it was a good answer for many American accents. Commented May 10, 2014 at 13:25
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    @tchrist I pronounce fairy as /feːɹi:/ and ferry as /feɹi:/.In Australian English /eː/ and /e/ are phonemic.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 21:58

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