Sometimes in words which have the ɛ sound followed by an "r" as in "stair", "their" "bear", "where" I hear them pronounced like "steɪəɹ", ðeɪəɹ etc. with the "eɪ" as in "fake", "lake","make" and not with the ɛ as in "bed","fed", "let".

Do I hear it right?

Thank you in advance!

  • 1
    Yes, that is right.
    – Inazuma
    Apr 2, 2016 at 10:26
  • 1
    Presumably, you're talking about American English because you put an /ɹ/ in. In General American English, /eɪ/ and /ɛ/ have merged before /r/, so fairy and ferry are pronounced the same. Some Americans pronounce bear with /eɪ/ and some with /ɛ/. But I believe bearing is usually pronounced with /ɛ/. Apr 2, 2016 at 10:33
  • 1
    I'm American, and I don't pronounce fairy and ferry the same way. Apr 2, 2016 at 11:57
  • 1
    @Steven Littman: Two-thirds of Americans pronounce them the same. Reference. But I definitely don't want to imply you're pronouncing them wrong; there are lots of American dialects that still have this distinction. Apr 2, 2016 at 15:10
  • 1
    And it's a distinction worth keeping. They are three words with three distinct meanings, and all of the vowel sounds that I use to distinguish Mary, marry and merry exist in English (as opposed to, let's say, the sound of u in deja vu (pronounced as it is in French). And it would be silly to say that John would marry Mary, but he wouldn't marry Merry, and have them sound like he would Mary Mary but he wouldn't Mary Mary. Apr 3, 2016 at 3:17


Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.