I have a South African colleague who pronounces "poor" as pooeur and I find it fairly humorous given I never hear it pronounced that way. Of course, pooeur, at some stage, would have been the general pronunciation of poor. This colleague also recently pronounced "boor" as booeur. Again, this stood out for its difference to what I would normally hear.
For curiosity's sake, I decided to check a range of online British English dictionaries (since they are the de facto standard for Australian English) to compare the pronunciation of "poor" and "boor" and what I found was quite surprising.
Despite por being listed as the general pronunciation of "poor" in (most of) the dictionaries, booeur was preferred over bor for "boor" (and usually also the only listed British pronunciation).
Pronunciation of "poor", according to the dictionaries
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online: /pɔːr/
- Collins: /pʊə/, /pɔː/
- Macmillan: /pɔː(r)/, /pʊə(r)/
- Oxford Dictionaries and the OED: /pɔː/, /pʊə/
- Macquarie (Aus): /pɔ/
Pronunciation of "boor"
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online: /bʊər/
- Collins: /bʊə/
- Macmillan: /bʊə(r)/
- Oxford Dictionaries and OED: /bɔː/, /bʊə/
- Macquarie (Aus): /bɔ/, /bʊə/
This, then, makes me wonder:
- Why has the pronunciation of "poor" changed more than that of "boor"? Does it come down to word frequency?
- Do these pronunciations accurately reflect how the word is generally pronounced by the general population, British or otherwise?