A pet peeve of mine is that a colleague at work keeps pronouncing "height" the same as the word "hate" whenever he speaks English. I corrected him once, but he keeps using his pronunciation. We have been working together for years now and it's a funny little thing that I keep to myself because I don't want to be obnoxious.

Now recently I saw someone on TV pronouncing the word as "hate" as well, so that got me thinking: Is there a native dialect in the English language that pronounces the word "height" as "hate" or very closely to that? I'm explicitly not looking for non-native speakers' accents.

Edit: To clarify, we are both Germans and need to switch to English for certain meetings. This question is not about me trying to correct my colleague's language but rather for me to find out whether there are actually native speakers pronouncing that word as part of their local dialect.

  • Possibly Scottish or Irish accents might cause what you hear. – Michael Harvey May 6 '19 at 10:02
  • 1
    And now I remember where I heard it. It was Sturgeon's Scexit II referendum speech in parliament. Since my colleague has a strong affinity to the US, I think it is simply a mistake on his part and not a conscious attempt at speaking Scottish. If you formulate your comment as an answer I will accept it. – Cerno May 6 '19 at 11:26
  • 13
    You really should avoid "correcting" the pronunciation of others, especially if they are native speakers using their usual accents. – Michael Harvey May 6 '19 at 11:50
  • 3
    What country is this in? – Barmar May 6 '19 at 15:48
  • 2
    @Cerno "I corrected him once, but he keeps using his pronunciation." This makes me chuckle. You haven't worked out why, have you? – Michael Harvey May 6 '19 at 19:12

As a native speaker, I would interpret meaning by context as much as sound. If I heard somebody (apparently) say "The hate of the tower is 300 metres", I would know that they were saying "height". That pronunciation sounds, to me, a southern English/RP speaker, like Irish (particularly Northern Irish), Scottish, or perhaps Newcastle ("Geordie") regional pronunciation. There is no single "correct" way to pronounce vowels in English, and attempts to "correct" people's speech are likely to cause resentment.

  • 2
    I immediately thought of the Royal accent, the one spoken by the Royal Family. – DJClayworth May 6 '19 at 14:07
  • RP speaker, what's that? – Greenonline May 6 '19 at 15:57
  • @Greenonline. Received Pronunciation. Received Pronunciation ( RP) is an accent of Standard English in the United Kingdom and is defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as "the standard accent of English as spoken in the south of England ", although it can be heard from native speakers throughout England and Wales. Source: Wikipedia. – Tony Dallimore May 6 '19 at 16:09
  • Hmm, If one committed a hate crime did they attack someone because of bias against a protected class or did they push someone off of a building? – Bill K May 6 '19 at 18:54
  • Sorry I didn't clarify this, but I am a non-native speaker among non-native speaker colleagues. I thought that in the spirit of improving our language skills it would be helpful to mention a mistake here and there, especially if it is a very obvious thing. I certainly would want to be corrected if I made a recurrent grammar or spelling mistake, but I agree that not everyone is open to this. As a native speaker, you are in the comfortable position of just taking what you hear at face value, while for me the English language is a skill that I like to work on. – Cerno May 7 '19 at 9:22

This type of pronunciation is taught in one of the public schools (Eton, Harrow) and correcting the person is probably taken as a slight (slate?) on the school.

  • 1
    Any chance you could tell how you know this? I gave you a +1 to counteract a the -1 (left without comment--something I really dislike). – Bill K May 6 '19 at 18:58
  • I'm not sure which school it is, but I used to hear many "public school accents" in London, and I should have said that "I believe this is taught", but when I went to correct the post, it asked me to join up, and I didn't have time, I was not aware the post went on the board until I saw the reply. It definitely seems that ex public school boys recognize each other by other means than the old school tie. – Doug May 7 '19 at 19:08

If he is doing it intentionally and consistently doing all his pronunciations in that accent, then that's one thing. But if he is only doing it only with some words then that's something else. What is also relevant is what country and region he is from, and what country and region you and he are in. e.g. if he's from india and in london then that's a different scenario than somebody from somewhere in the UK with a quirky accent, and in london. Or somebody from india in a region where they speak with a quirky accent.

You might want to advise your friend to be wary of learning English from those with quirky accents. Or ask him at least where(if anywhere), he heard that word pronounced like that.

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.