I've been an Australian English speaker my whole life but this was pointed out to me recently. Apparently I've been pronouncing "where" differently or incorrectly? Most of the people around me pronounce it this way:
/wɛː/ (or like this: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/where)
However I found myself pronouncing it this way:
/wɪəː/ (like saying "hear" but replacing the first letter with the usual /w/ sound)

Example of both: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0DYaRzH5heN

Is this an Australian English thing? I only know of one other person who says it like I do. Or am I just pronouncing it wrong?

  • I'd say that if you are being understood, then you are not mispronouncing the word. There is a wide variation in how "where" is pronounced in the English speaking world. – J. Taylor Nov 21 '18 at 7:59
  • 1
    my whole life How old are you (30s)? And in which part of Australia do you live? – Mari-Lou A Nov 21 '18 at 9:30
  • Generally, (most) dictionaries provide pronunciation for AmE and BrE. Maybe some may even provide for AusE, which I suspect would be similar to if not the same as BrE. – Kris Nov 21 '18 at 9:51
  • 1
    I'm an Australian, lived here nearly 60 years, travelled all over the country, and I can assure you that the way you pronounce it is not a recognised Australian accent. It sounds to me more like a New Zealand accent. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Nov 21 '18 at 11:04
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Ah right, 20 years old. Lived in Sydney my whole life. – user3223010 Nov 21 '18 at 12:14

As a native English speaker from the South East of England, I can interpret your audio recording in two ways, depending on whether I have tuned into an Australian accent or not. When I'm unaware of your accent, I hear "we're" (we are). When I tune into an Australian accent, I hear "where", as you intended.


It seems I pronounce "hear" differently XD

You seem to pronounce it as an /hiːr/, I would pronounce it /hɪə/.

Although unusual, since /ɛː/ in RP should stay /ɛː/ in AuE as far as I gather, I still find it quite comprehensible.

I would say yes, you may be pronouncing it "wrong", but it should still be widely understood, so don't be bothered by it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.