I heard the term "nominal" pronounced by a native speaker of American English and I realised that it was different from the usual British pronunciation.

I checked in online dictionaries and I found that:

Nominal (from Oxford Dictionary)

  • BrE /ˈnɒmɪnl/ ; NAmE /ˈnɑːmɪnl/

while nominal according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

  • /ˈnɒmɪnəl/ both for British and American English.

Other online dictionaries also suggest only the British pronunciation.

What is the correct or most common way to pronounce "nominal" in American English?

  • Yes, that makes a difference, does it? I am more familiar with British English. – user240918 Apr 26 '16 at 15:07
  • 1
    There is no difference for American English speakers. See this Wikipedia article: father-bother merger The phoneme /ɒ/ does not exist in most varieties of North American English. The sound used in "bomb," "nominal," and most other words that have /ɒ/ in British English is /ɑ/ or /ɑː/, the same vowel as in "father" (the length of the vowel is not contrastive). – sumelic Apr 26 '16 at 15:11
  • The Cambridge Dictionary entry you cited seems to just be an error where they forgot to adjust to the American pronunciation. They transcribe "nominate" as /ˈnɑː.mə.neɪt/. – sumelic Apr 26 '16 at 15:14
  • I am not sure I understand what you mean. Is the NAmE pronunciation suggested by the Oxford Dictionary commonly used by Americans? – user240918 Apr 26 '16 at 15:14
  • 3
    The British pronunciation would not generally be used. There may be some American dialects and some British dialects where the vowel sounds similar, but normally the American English vowel /ɑː/ or /ɑ/ is unrounded and at the bottom of the vowel chart, while the British vowel /ɒ/ is more rounded and slightly "higher" on the vowel chart (closer to the sound of /ɔː/ in words like "born"). – sumelic Apr 26 '16 at 15:29

I'm Canadian but we pronounce most words the same as Americans - although we often tend to use British spellings for words like "colour" - and I've never heard "nominal" pronounced any other way than the following, even in British TV programs or movies:

  • "nom" to rhyme with "bomb"
  • "in" to rhyme with "tin"
  • "ull" to rhyme with "Tull" (as in "Jethro Tull")
  • emphasis on the first syllable
  • You mean that you have never heard the NAmE pronunciation suggested by the Oxford Dictionaries ? – user240918 Apr 26 '16 at 15:04
  • @Saturana: except for a possible small difference in the vowel in the last syllable, that is the NAmE pronunciation suggested by Oxford Dictionaries. North Americans use /bɑːm/ for bomb. The syllabic /l/ and and the syllable /əl/ are allophones, and Tull uses /ʌl/, which for many North American speakers is the same vowel as /əl/. – Peter Shor May 26 '16 at 17:52

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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