I just looked up majorant to see IPA and found none. I googled, and found this, which has what sounds like /'mæ.dʒɔ.ɹənt/, /mə:'dʒɔ.ɹənt/ and /'meɪ.dʒəˌɹæənt/ to my ears, this, which also has /'meɪ.dʒəˌɹæənt/, then this, which sounds like /'meɪ.dʒɔ.rənt/, this, which has explicit IPA as /ˈmeɪdʒər(ə)nt/, and then I got fed up of looking :). I do not know how to classify these pronunciations, nor if there are nonstandard ones, so could someone read these and put them into the article with appropriate classification (and perhaps narrower IPA)?

I posted the above on the Wiktionary Tea Room on May 7. Nobody answered, so I thought I could post it as a question here. How do you pronounce majorant? Which of the above IPA matches which accent, and which (if any) are nonstandard?

PS I personally would have gone for /'mæ.dʒəɹ.ənt/, but I just wanted to be sure, hence I checked the Wiktionary.

  • Your first sound link sounds nothing like /ˡmædʒɔɹənt/ or /ˡməːdʒɔɹənt/ unless I'm missing something. He clearly says major ant (as you notice, as two words), which sounds odd. /ˡmeɪdʒərənt/ is the only pronunciation that occurred to me, and also the only one I can find in any dictionaries. Definitely the one I'd go with. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 13 '17 at 14:01
  • @JanusBahsJacquet the first link has three audios matching the three IPAs in order from top to bottom. And yes, the last sample could be "major ant", come to think of it. – MickG May 13 '17 at 14:03
  • Oh, I hadn't noticed that block further down on the page. I'd only seen the one at the top (it's quite a cluttered page on a phone). The first two of those sound like synthesised speech, i.e., computers. The first one is definitely not a human voice. The last one sounds human, but probably over-enunciating. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 13 '17 at 14:06

In mathematics, the only way I have heard majorant and majorize pronounced is as major with a suffix. So

/ˈmeɪdʒərənt/ and /ˈmeɪdʒəraɪz/.

Wiktionary says majorant comes from French (the French verb is majorer; majorant is derived from it), while the OED says it was formed in English from major + -ant. So people who know the French word and have just seen the English written might easily pronounce it /ˈmædʒərənt/, as /æ/ is probably the closest English vowel to the French pronunciation.

ADDENDUM: (Etymology) Looking at the chronology, it looks like, for the mathematical usage, Wiktionary is probably right. The verb majorer in French means to overvalue. I assume that French mathematicians used the word majorer and the derived word majorant in mathematics; the mathematical meanings are quite similar to overvalue. Then English borrowed the mathematical term majorant (in 1925), and this was re-verbed to form majorize (1934). The word majorize (from major + ize) was a rare word in English before, with quite different meanings. [To come of age; to put a piece of music into a major key; to convert a try into a goal in Rugby.]

  • What is the last paragraph a TL;DR of? – MickG May 14 '17 at 12:40
  • The question wasn't about the etymology. It was just about the pronunciation. – Peter Shor May 14 '17 at 13:23
  • I know, but I was wondering what that paragraph was a TL;DR of. TL;DR should mean (AFAIK) that there is a longer version somewhere, but it is not clear where. As is, the last paragraph, in my opinion, would be better termed as an Addendum or Extra than as a TL;DR. – MickG May 14 '17 at 13:29

The OED has

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈmeɪdʒər(ə)nt/ , U.S. /ˈmeɪdʒərənt/

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.