1

How do South Africans pronounce "apartheid"? Is there a British/U.S. divide on this? Does it depend on whether your primary language is Afrikaans or not -- or is that irrelevant?

Does the last syllable rhyme with "paid" or "side"?

I checked some dictionaries with "listen" buttons, but that didn't help me figure out what the authentic pronunciation is. One of them specified one version as U.S. and one version as British, but the layout on the page made it confusing to figure out which was which.

I thought the S. African pronunciation was "paid," but then I heard a Trevor Noah interview on Fresh Air and he said "side." (But maybe he was just adopting the prevalent U.S. pronunciation....)

On Edwin's suggestion, I listened to four versions at Oxford Learners:

  • UK: side

  • US: side

  • UK: paid

  • US: paid

(Here I'm just notating the vowel sound, not the final consonant, which I don't care about.)

Primary question: Why are there two versions, and which one is more authentically South African?

Secondary question 1: What factors, if any, of the language panorama of South Africa might have been involved in the derivation of these two variants?

Secondary question 2: Can I use the term "etymology" for pronunciation, or is it only for meanings?

  • 3
    This site (pronounceitright.com/pronunciation/apartheid-4406) has in Afrikaans (a part' aid); Elsewhere the American ending seems rhyme with "side", the British is more like "site". – Xanne Apr 10 '17 at 4:31
  • 1
    Both of the Afrikaans pronunciations on Forvo sound to me like they rhyme with side, but possibly that is in the ear of the listener so you should listen for yourself. The r is much more rolled or trilled than I would expect (or be able to produce) in AmE. – 1006a Apr 10 '17 at 5:03
  • 1
    Lol, the OED says it's "apart-hate" w/ final /t/. But I don't think most people observe word-final hardening like this when pronouncing loanwords from languages with this phenomenon; for example, we pronounce "Freud" as "froyd," not "froyt," and "vodka" has /d/. Phonetically, the Afrikaans/Dutch sound of "ei" is in general near both the vowel of English "paid" and English "side," but I don't know which one is conventionally used by South Africans. – sumelic Apr 10 '17 at 5:08
  • 1
    Xanne has adopted the correct approach here. A pronunciation apparently only claimed to be correct in Afrikaans (and not necessarily in SAE) is not what ELU requires. And indeed ODO claims: 'As a result of apartheid, there is no single, reasonably uniform South African English accent.... There were thus many varieties—white English-speaking SAE, white Afrikaans-speaking South African English, black African South African English, Indian South African English, Coloured South African English....' – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '17 at 8:14
  • 3
    Despite @sumelic's comment, I (in England) have never heard "apartheid" pronounced with final /d/; one prevalent pronunciation here is with -/ait/, with some people using -/eit/. – Rosie F Jun 15 '18 at 6:53
1

I read -about 30 years ago,from an authoritative South African source, that the word is -(was?)- pronounced,"apart-hate". Nasty, hey, but quite fitting considering its disgusting meaning.

  • 1
    I'm glad you want to participate, but this doesn't answer the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you'll be able to comment anywhere. So go give us a good answer somewhere! – Spencer Jul 19 '18 at 3:07

Your Answer

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

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