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According to a blog article by Steven Norman under the title “My 100 most mispronounced words in English”, the word depends should be /dɪˈpenz/ when “correctly” pronounced.

Notice he provides for no /d/ between the /n/ and the /z/ there in the coda. Is that normal with this consonant cluster, or has the author left it out by accident?

I ask because the Longman Dictionary of Pronunciation disagrees with such info. Their online version gives the base form of the verb as /dɪˈpend/. In contrast, the OED disagrees with both of those, giving /dɪˈpɛnd/ as the base form of the verb.

It’s sometimes hard to look up the pronunciations of inflected forms in dictionaries. However, a word that you would imagine would be a perfect rhyme for depends is amends, which Longman Online gives as /əˈmendz/ although the OED gives as /əˈmɛndz/.

Kenyon and Knott show both versions of amends, with /əˈmɛndz/ first and /əˈmɛnz/ second. Merriam-Webster similarly shows the /d/ as optional with \ə-ˈmen(d)z\ (albeit via their idiosyncratic and non-standard in-house notation instead of IPA).

Is this all just a typographical error in the blog post’s rendition where he forgot to have a /d/ there, or is his version the standard pronunciation we should expect to hear and strive to emulate?

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  • I noticed that the article shows pronunciation in British English, not American. I'm basing that on how it shows "answer" is pronounced. I don't know if that matters. Also, I don't know what your question is or I'd answer it.
    – user361733
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 19:21
  • Why should Longman Dictionary support mispronunciations?
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 19:22
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    @user067531 Nobody is saying they should. The article linked to gives the ostensibly correct pronunciations of a list of words commonly mispronounced by Spanish speakers. One of those ‘correct’ pronunciations is for the word depends, given as /dɪˡpenz/, a form which does not match the pronunciation given by dictionaries such as Longman’s. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 19:42
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    @JanusBahsJacquet sorry I didn't understand what you are replying "No" to. Do you think the list's pronunciation of depends is correct? Or that my pronunciation is incorrect? Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 19:48
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    @WeatherVane The list’s pronunciation is not correct, but I very much doubt it’s giving the mispronunciation. Rather, it’s giving the correct pronunciation (or intending to), but with an error. If you look at the rest of the list, there’s some idiosyncratic IPA (as well as the outright errors), but the vast majority of the words match how I pronounce them. The text on the first page in the article also talks about having the list hanging in the classroom as a basis for exercises to help students’ pronunciation – a list of incorrect pronunciations wouldn’t do there. Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 19:52

2 Answers 2

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It's not the mispronunciation /dɪˈpendz/ that the author is highlighting, it's the mispronunciation /deˈpenz/ (or /deˈpendz/).

In English, it doesn't really matter whether you pronounce it /nz/ or /ndz/. There are native English speakers who pronounce the ending "nds" both ways, and both pronunciations should be equally well understood by most native English speakers.

What the blog article is talking about is common mispronunciations made by native Spanish speakers. The cognate of the word depends in Spanish is depende, pronounced /deˈpende/ with an /e/ as the first vowel. Using an /e/ rather than an /i/ as the first vowel must be the mispronunciation Steven Norman is complaining about.

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  • The article may also be talking about how native Spanish speakers often get /s/ and /z/ confused, possibly leading to them devoicing the final /z/.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 16:48
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This is a case of a more general merger between /nz/ and /ndz/ found in some speakers. As Wikipedia explains, this can make bans and pens sound like bands and pends. This is usually because the /d/ is elided, though it can also involve an epenthetic /d/ being inserted into /nz/.

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  • Don't believe what you read in Wikipedia! There is no /ndz/, /nz/ merger! This is just a common garden case of dealveolar elision. It is possible because this word form satisfies strict preconditions involving morpheme boundaries, voicing harmony and so forth. There's nothing lexical about it (to answer that aspect of the the OP's concerns). Commented May 15, 2023 at 18:47
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. If you have an answer that you think is more complete or accurate, feel free to post one; that would be very helpful to OP, and of course helping the asker is our primary goal here.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 18:52

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