Are there multiple valid pronunciations for ing or present participle form of boggle -- [bog-uh l] | /ˈbɒg əl/? I.e. are both of the following valid for boggling (not thinking of bogglin or other shortened pronunciations)?

  1. [bog-ling] | /ˈbɒg lɪŋ/
  2. [bog-uh ling] | /ˈbɒg əlɪŋ/

If the second form is valid, are there specific dialects where it's common? Otherwise, is there a term for this type of mispronunciation?

  • 4
    I don't think the second one is a 'mispronunciation'. It is a common alternative as correct as the first.
    – Mitch
    Feb 9, 2018 at 21:44
  • Uh, you're supposed to be boggled by it.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9, 2018 at 22:36
  • (Consider how you'd pronounce "bottling".)
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9, 2018 at 22:36
  • @HotLicks that's partly a difference between AmE and BrE Feb 10, 2018 at 0:34
  • 1
    @WillCrawford - It has a lot to do with whether the speaker makes an effort to speak distinctly or not -- some do, some don't, and some people vary, depending on the circumstances. Like how many Rs are there in "February".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 10, 2018 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


Epenthesis is the insertion of a consonant or vowel, usually to ease pronunciation, as in the p-sound most speakers use in ham[p]ster, or for those who find thl a bother to pronounce, the insertion of a schwa in ath[e]lete.

Now your particular case is somewhat different, since retaining a vowel otherwise elided is not the same as inserting it where it never was to begin with. It could be argued that in the present participles – or other derivatives such as agent nouns in -er – derived from verbs ending in -le, the elision is very common, but not mandatory. While most native speakers would pronounce toddler with the elision, toddling sounds more natural to me without it. At any rate, I don't think the non-elided form of such words is so deprecated that it would be considered an error. In other words, a matter of opinion.

A similar case is the tendency of some native speakers not to pronounce vocalic n in contractions such as didn't, wouldn't, or couldn't, instead inserting a schwa or lately even a fronted vowel before the n, or in words ending in -ant where vocalic n would otherwise be expected, like important. (Take that, Ezra Klein! See this video at 1:40 mark) While this particular pronunciation puts my teeth on edge, enough educated elites use it in their podcasts that calling it an error rather than a new variation seems ill-advised.

  • I don’t quite understand what you mean by “not to vocalize the n in contractions…”. Do you mean they pronounce didn’t as /ˡdɪdnət/? If so, can you provide an example? I don’t recall ever hearing/noticing that. Feb 9, 2018 at 22:55
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: No, the schwa before the n: didunt. Edited to clarify. youtu.be/rNsI0MvEYfk at 1:40.
    – KarlG
    Feb 9, 2018 at 23:15
  • Oh, so you meant ‘vocalise’ as in ‘make syllabic’. It was the apostrophe bit that confused me, since seeing the apostrophe as a sign to add a schwa would imply adding the schwa after the n. But there is no phonemic distinction between /n̩/ and /ən/ anyway, so it shouldn’t matter whether you say /ˡdɪdənt/ or /ˡdɪdn̩t/. Certainly, /ˡlɪtəl/ is common enough too, and has been for a long time. Feb 9, 2018 at 23:20
  • I completely disagree with you. one can "sing through" a nasal liquid, and I would see the schwa there as epenthetic.
    – KarlG
    Feb 9, 2018 at 23:23
  • That doesn’t mean there’s a phonemic distinction—there isn’t. The schwa may be epenthetic, or the syllabic consonant may be due to the loss of a schwa (well, it definitely is ultimately, but I mean a preceding one here), but both variants exist, and I don’t think you’re right to call either a recent phenomenon. What I’m pretty sure is a recent phenomenon is pronouncing /n̩ ~ ən/ as [ɪn ~ in], with a raised, fronted vowel. (Not, as far as I can tell, what Ezra says in the video you linked to.) Feb 9, 2018 at 23:28

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