I find that American/British English dialects tend to pronounce words like "bed", "red", "dead", "bred", "said", etc. with the exact same vowel sound: the IPA ɛ vowel (- and so this question may seem a bit odd to some of you). However, where I come from (Singaporean English), there is a clear distinction in the correct pronunciation in normal spoken language, with two categories of words:

  1. Pronounced with "ɛ", such as "bred", "led", etc.
  2. Pronounced like the e in "hey" but ending sharply at he the "e" without the draggy "ɪ" sound, such as "head", "bread", "said", "red".

    (This is clearly distinct from the "" sound in "braid", "frayed", "played" etc.) For example, "red" or "bed" is much closer to "rad" or "bad" in American/British pronunciations, but that would sound completely weird here, where it is much more between "rad"/"bad" and "raid"/"bayed". (I can't seem to find the IPA for this particular sound, however, though it is very prevalent in many words)

Does this distinction exist in other dialects too?

  • The sound comes in say and stay (also, stayed & staid), but not in said -- certainly not in read. – Kris Jun 21 '18 at 12:34
  • "Head" is (or was) pronounced "haid" in some dialects of American English, and "dead" as "daid". (You may remember Curly in the musical Oklahoma! sang "Pore Jud is daid, pore Jud lies daid....") – tautophile Jun 21 '18 at 15:39

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