15

Toronto - The capital and largest city of Ontario, Canada, in the southern part of the province on Lake Ontario.

Context: The 2012 Oscar winning movie “Argo”. Decades ago, when the Iranian revolution was reaching a boiling point and the American embassy in Tehran was invaded, six Americans escaped and found shelter at the Canadian ambassy. To get out of Iran more or less safely they received new identities as Canadian teachers. At this point, they were told they would be asked where they came from, at the airport, and were warned that Torontonians don’t pronounce the name of their city the same way most English speaking people do.

I've searched several dictionaries and have only found the usual pronunciation.

  • 1
    Did you notice the pronunciation you listed: [təˈrän(t)ō]? This (t) means the second 't' is optional, and listening to forvo.com, I believe many Torontonians leave it out. – Peter Shor Nov 10 '14 at 23:59
  • @peter shor i bet you're right. this seems similar to baltimore, for which people who live in the area also elide the t. – ell Nov 11 '14 at 0:01
  • 2
    Toronto native here. We pronounce it Tor-on-toe. There is no silent t. – robbmj Nov 11 '14 at 2:10
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    The real question is how would Iranians know the local pronunciation? – JamesRyan Nov 11 '14 at 15:24
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    @Centaurus: I'm not good at explaining pronunciation. You have to hear it from me :) There are already good answers. Most important part is, second t is silent. Forvo.com is a good start as Peter Shor mentioned. Though, people use "t-dot" as a nickname too. – ermanen Nov 12 '14 at 2:18
12

When I was living in Calgary, Alberta, in the early 1970s, a student fresh from Toronto (where she had grown up) enrolled in our high school—and I would swear that she pronounced Toronto in two syllables: ˈträn-ə.

Admittedly (1) the pronunciation may have changed or (2) our transfer student may have had an idiosyncratic pronunciation or (3) even though I would swear to the accuracy of the memory, I may not be remembering it correctly.

I do know that the nasal tone with which she pronounced Toronto was a source of great mirth to the chirpy native Calgarians.

  • 4
    That sounds basically like what I have always heard from Torontonians. Writing it Tronna is quite common too (like Strylia for Australia, Oireland for Ireland, or various variations of Sef Efrica for South Africa). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 11 '14 at 1:05
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Strine for 'Australia' is Striya (though locals write Straya), with no L, at least not one discernable to foreigners. – Glen_b Nov 11 '14 at 2:21
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    @JanusBahsJacquet I don't know whether this is an Inland North dialect characteristic, or whether it’s just some ubiquitous urge found everywhere (English is spoken (stress-timed)) to get everything down to as few syllables as one can get away with, but you sure do hear it a lot in the Great Lakes region. Milwaukee is Mwawkee; Wisconsin is Sconsun; Buffalo is Buflow; Chicago is Shkawgow; Sault Sainte Marie is odd, and Flint is — well, flint. :) On the other hand, a native Minnesotan will not flap that -t-, confounding other North Americans with its Scandihoovian vestiges. – tchrist Nov 11 '14 at 2:34
  • @Glen_b Right you are! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 11 '14 at 7:50
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    I have been to Toronto and have lots of family there. They all say Trawno. – RedSonja Nov 11 '14 at 12:26
11

Peter Shor's comment is right: that second 't' is silent, in the stereotypical accent, so it's something like, "te-rah-na" ... eh?

Also Wikipedia gives /ˈtrɒnoʊ/ so the first vowel, too, is elided.

I'm not sure whether the first vowel is there or not. I think it's something like /tɨˈrɒnoʊ/ with a reduced first vowel and more stress on the 'R' than on the initial 'T', but who knows.

As an aside: apart from that "Canadian" accent, 50% of the inhabitants of Toronto were born outside Canada. So actual "Torontonians" are also likely to pronounce it with a Ukrainian accent, or with a Chinese accent, or etc.

  • 2
    Just like the capital of Albania (-: – Jim Mack Nov 11 '14 at 0:41
  • 1
    Yes about like that but without the "I" between the "T" and the "R". – ChrisW Nov 11 '14 at 1:03
  • I think you mean that the first (not the first two) syllable is elided. If the first two were elided, you'd end up with /trna/ or something like that… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 11 '14 at 1:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thanks, you're right. I thought "two syllables elided" meant, "squished together into one syllable". – ChrisW Nov 11 '14 at 1:13
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    I am from Toronto, and I and most people I know pronounce it [tə-ˈränō] (second t silent, long o at the end, but not with an elided first vowel). This answer is a good one. – Ryan Kohn Nov 11 '14 at 16:48
3

'Trawna' if we're both from there, 'Trawn-toe' if we're speaking to someone who isn't from there.

1

Your merriam-webster link shows two pronunciations: [tə-ˈrän-(ˌ)tō] and [tə-ˈrän-tə]. The second of those, ending with a short vowel, more or less agrees with the pronunciation I was told by a Torontonian about nine years ago. Due to the lapse of time, I don't remember for certain if he slightly elided the second t – ie, somewhat like [tə-ˈrän-ə] instead of [tə-ˈrän-tə] – but I think he might have.

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