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This morning on NHK Japanese National TV there was a short feature on an Australian person who is running an English school, teaching language and cooking at the same time.

As a part of the scenario reporter was preparing an egg with spinach on a fry pan. At one moment the Australian teacher instructed him to put "pienuts" ([paɪnʌts]) into the frying pan.

The reporter seemed also confused and the word was repeated by both of them three times altogether. There was no chance of mispronouncing or mishearing. The dish could not be called a "pie" in any way either. The ingredient was a bowl of nuts of some kind.

Is it a regular pronunciation for "peanut" in Australian English or anywhere?

  • depends on whether you mean australian english or tv australian english – Destructible Lemon May 19 '17 at 3:43
  • Can you elaborate? – macraf May 19 '17 at 3:43
  • I and my wife heard the same thing. My wife has previous experience as a student with Australian teachers, pronouncing "pen" as "pin". – Grizzly May 19 '17 at 5:55
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    I would suspect what Scott suggests below -- that the ingredient was pine nuts. These would be more likely to be used in the way described than peanuts. – Hot Licks May 24 '17 at 23:26
  • There is no standard Australian accent; it's a large country (albeit rather thinly populated) with broad regional variations. I listen to RN Drive, a national news/politics show, and am frequently astonished by the wide variety of accents I hear. In one regional accent - I believe, but am not certain, that it's Queensland - the name of the former prime minister sounds, to my American ear, exactly like "Tiny Abbott". – MT_Head May 24 '17 at 23:40
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I would guess this was a case of mishearing the "EE" vowel sound in a certain type of Australian accent, rather than of an Australian pronouncing the word "peanut" with the same vowel that that Australian would use in the word "pie".

The Wikipedia page "Variation in Australian English" has a nice chart, sourced from John Wells's Accents of English, that I will reproduce in part here:

Variation in Australian closing diphthongs
Diaphoneme  Lexical set Cultivated  General Broad
/iː/        fleece      [ɪi]        [ɪi]    [əːɪ]
/eɪ/        face        [ɛɪ]        [ɐ̟ɪ]    [ɐ̟ːɪ, a̠ːɪ]
/aɪ/        price       [a̠ɪ̞]        [ɒɪ̞]    [ɒːɪ̞]

You can see that what it calls the "broad" realization of the FLEECE vowel is [əːɪ], which is fairly easily misheard as /aɪ/ (the vowel of "price").

But in a broad accent, FLEECE and PRICE don't merge. According to this chart, PRICE would be [ɒːɪ̞] (likely to be misheard as the "oy" sound to someone who speaks another accent).

So the way a "broad" Australian English speaker pronounces "peanut" might sound like pienut to YOU, but it wouldn't sound like pienut to that speaker: that speaker would use a different pronunciation of a hypothetical word "pienut" that might sound to you like "poynut".

  • +1 excellent observation. To many people, 'having an accent' applies only to others. Even migrants (ex-pats) might not notice / acknowledge changes in their own accent until returning after an extended period abroad. Australian English often includes a dusting of the local vernacular, which can make it subtly harder to decide whether an unfamiliar Australian vocalisation is a matter of pronunciation or vocabulary. – Lawrence May 24 '17 at 23:27
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As an Australian English speaker and as a cook, I can confirm with some certainty that the ingredient referred to is Pine nuts. An Aussie is not going to fancy peanuts with his eggs and spinach. Australian cooking has strong Italian influences due to Italian migration here after WWII and so pine nuts are a very common ingredient for us. One of the aspects of our English that American and British speakers have trouble with is our tendency to blur words together and "pine nuts" certainly sounds very much like "pie-nuts" when I say it.

  • _ "pine nuts" certainly sounds very much like "pie-nuts" when I say it _ not least because 'pine' ends on the same N sound with which 'nuts' begins; and some Aussies do speak exceptionally rapid Australian, as in Ricky Ponting! Your answer is authoritative and I am sure it's correct; hence I upvote. – English Student Jul 6 '17 at 11:32
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There is an ingredient "pine nuts" maybe with the speed of speech it seemed shorter and condensed.

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