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I cannot count how many times I was told and/or made fun of my allegedly incorrect pronunciation of almond. Every single one of my attempted pronunciations has been 'corrected'; even the so-called correct versions have been corrected.

As expected, the American and British English pronunciations are different. However, every YouTube video or online dictionary I visit has its own pronunciation for the American English version!

What is the actually 100% correct pronunciation for almond in American English? Is there a most commonly acceptable pronunciation?

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    There is no such thing as a 100% correct pronunciation. No matter how you pronounce it, there are people who will be able to make fun of you. Sorry. Consider all the variation in the pronunciation of calm. – sumelic May 2 '16 at 0:59
  • There are over 300 million people in the US, with origins from all over the planet. There are likely many ways almond is pronounced by them. – Drew May 2 '16 at 1:01
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    @sumelic, but is there no dictionary defined way to say the word? – Daniel May 2 '16 at 1:02
  • You've looked in dictionaries already, right? There are multiple dictionary-defined ways to say the word. Some dictionaries list pronunciations in order of frequency (as best as they're able) so usually the first pronunciation is the most common. – sumelic May 2 '16 at 1:04
  • @Dopapp Dictionaries never “define” a way to say a word. – tchrist May 2 '16 at 1:04
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Considering that there is no such thing as “the actually 100% correct pronunciation for almond in American English”, it is not possible to provide you with that.

There are, however, at least different six pronunciations in common use:

  1. [ɔlmənd], with the first syllable homophonic with the common word all and the less common work awl.
  2. [ɔmənd], as before but without the [l].
  3. [ɑmənd], now without a rounded vowel.

Furthermore, the [d] at the end will often have no audible release. You might not even hear it at all, which provides the other three pronunciations.

If people are teasing you about any of these six, then they don’t know what they’re talking about — and if they’re teasing you about something else, they have no class.

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    Though I maintain the /a ~ ɔ/ distinction, before /l/ it's normally pronounced /ɔ/ in my idiolect. Nevertheless, I pronounce almonds as /'alməndz/, with /a/. The only other word I can think of that I pronounce with /al/ is the 1Sg contraction of will, spelled I'll, pronounced /'al/. I've heard /'ɔlmənd/ often, but I don't say it. Strange idiolectal variations are everywhere. – John Lawler Sep 10 '16 at 16:49
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    How about the weak version of while, which I pronounce to rhyme with I'll? – Peter Shor Sep 10 '16 at 16:50
  • Yeah, that comes out /wal/. I guess my [al] is always /ayl/. Just like my /kæn/ is always can't because my can is always /kɛn/. – John Lawler Sep 10 '16 at 16:52
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The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary lists the following pronunciations for American English:

  1. /ˌɑːlmənd/

This is listed as the "main" pronunciation, recommended as a model for learners.

  1. /ˌæːlmənd/
  2. /ˌɑːmənd/
  3. /ˌæːmənd/

These three are alternative pronunciations which are also in use, although perhaps less frequently. As you can see, there are two things that vary from speaker to speaker:

  • The first vowel can be /ɑː/ or /æː/.
  • Some speakers leave out the /l/.

The dictionary includes the results of a preference poll: 75% of American English speakers prefer to include the /l/, and only 25% prefer to leave it out.

None of these pronunciations is more or less "correct" than any of the others, and no one should make fun of you regardless of how you pronounce it, but if you'd like to use the most common American English pronunciation, feel free to use /ˌɑːlmənd/.

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    I find it surprising that Longman doesn’t include the versions that start like the word all, so /ɔːl/. – tchrist May 2 '16 at 12:30
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I live in the Great Central Valley of California... Almond country. We use two pronunciations, circumstances dictate which is appropriate. And it is very simple!

  1. Is the nut on the tree? Pronounce it with the L and the a like "ahh"

  2. Is the nut off the tree? Pronounce it with no L (silent L) and the a like "avenue"

Bottom line it that when the nut falls from the tree, the L gets knocked out... Almond is then pronounced Amond!

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    Where in the Central Valley do you live? Is this distinction in pronunciation something that everyone in your area observes? It doesn't seem to have crossed over the Coastal Range and reached coastal California. Can you cite any published discussions of a difference in pronunciation with regard to on-tree and off-tree almonds? – Sven Yargs Aug 9 '16 at 18:38
  • Good question! Besides this discussion, I'm not aware of any other published discussions of this difference in pronunciation. I was born in Modesto and still live in Stanislaus County. I'm fairly confident that it is regional folklore in the oral tradition. I will try to find something written and update when found. – meansober Aug 9 '16 at 21:00
  • Not sure where it came from, but I used to live near Red Bluff, California and the growers called them amonds. No l. – user201193 Oct 16 '16 at 2:36

protected by Community Jan 28 '17 at 9:02

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