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Which of the two common pronunciations of the noun research is more common among educated native American English speakers?

  1. /rɪ ˈsɝt͡ʃ/ with the stress on the second syllable
  2. /ˈriː sɚt͡ʃ/ with the stress on the first syllable
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    In my experience (WA and PA), rē is more common. In some circles, usually tied to education, ri is the common noun form.
    – Unrelated
    Oct 28, 2016 at 13:28
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    Interestingly this pattern goes against standard verb noun syllable stress patterns english-at-home.com/pronunciation/noun-and-verb-syllable-stress
    – Unrelated
    Oct 28, 2016 at 13:31
  • @Unrelated: no, it doesn't; not really. The word started out as /rɪˈsərtʃ/ for both the noun and the verb, and in some regions the noun has switched and started conforming to the standard verb-noun syllable stress pattern. Oct 28, 2016 at 14:33
  • 2
    Highly dependent on your locale. In some areas of the US it would be "ree-search". In others it would be "ri-search".
    – Kace36
    Jul 19, 2017 at 21:57
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    And if you want to get into all the various accents of the US technically it can be pronounced many different ways ;) In the northeast (like Boston or New York) whether you stress "ree" or "ri" the "search" syllable becomes "such" as in "ree-such". In the south it would be "ree-sURch".
    – Kace36
    Jul 19, 2017 at 22:00

3 Answers 3

1

There are a large number of two-syllable English words (see a list at Wikipedia) where the verb is accented on the second syllable and the noun is accented on the first syllable.

The dictionaries say that the accent on research can be either on the first or second syllable, but I suspect a large number of people (like me) treat it as one of this class of words, with the noun accesnted on the first syllable and the verb on the second. The word research is included in the list I link to above.

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I went to college, worked as a computer programmer and in database design. I've lived in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. I've always heard the word 'research' pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. Hope this helps.

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This is a great topic because it highlights the difference between formal/standard and informal American English. It also speaks to how people are educated regarding grammar and the pronunciation of words over time. Although "research" has two different pronunciations (REE-search, noun) and (ri-Search, verb), many Americans were not taught this rule. Thus, it has been normalized and has become acceptable (or tolerated) in most circles to pronounce both the noun and verb as (REE-Search).

As an educated person and a former English teacher, I am embarrassed to admit that I was pronouncing the noun and verb as "REE-search" for most of my career. I have only recently started to be more cognizant of stressing the correct syllable when using research as noun or verb.

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