A poem from Whitman (song of myself, 2) uses the word perfume and also perfumes.

Both in different videos on the web or google translate pronounce perfume and perfumes in different way. Frequently the accent is in fu when pronouncing perfume, an in per when pronouncing perfumes. This seems to me the correct way, but I've found some videos with different pronunciation.

Is it correct? Is there a simple rule for pronunciation in those cases?

  • 1
    Is there something wrong with the dictionary pronunciations you've checked? – Robusto Nov 5 '18 at 2:51
  • The syllable emphasis of the first "perfumes" in the first stanza is affected slightly by the meter of the poetry. Otherwise I detect no difference. – Hot Licks Nov 5 '18 at 2:57
  • It is important to note that how I pronounce it and how someone from another region of the world may pronounce it could very different, but neither one wrong. – Ryan Mortensen Nov 5 '18 at 4:33

The accent isn’t expected to change based on the presence of the suffix -s. Either accentuation is possible, but for people who use both pronunciations, the most likely distinction would be initial stress for the noun vs. second-syllable stress for the verb.

That pattern (initial stress for the noun, and second/final-syllable stress for the verb) is used for a number of other disyllabic words—mostly ones that are formed from a prefix plus a monosyllabic root, such as insult and progress. But it isn't regular enough to count as a "simple rule": there are also words that are pronounced with only one stress pattern for both noun and verb uses, such as reˈport, supˈport, conˈcern, deˈbate, diˈstress or ˈdeluge, ˈedit, ˈoffer.

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