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"Vomit" is not a recent addition to English, and nor does it have a peculiar pronunciation. Yet, the past tense of vomit does not follow the notion that a vowel followed by a consonant and emphasis on the consonant. (For example, past tense of 'emit' is 'emitted'.)

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    Essentially any simple rule in English can be disproved. Oct 20, 2019 at 8:43
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    There is no such thing as “emphasis on the consonant” in English. If that was meant to refer to stress (i.e., phonetic ‘emphasis’ on the vowel), then vomit doesn’t do that, since the i is not stress. Oct 20, 2019 at 10:05
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    This doubling (or not) of consonants with -ed, -ing, etc. ... sometimes they differ between US and UK... US traveling, UK travelling.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 20, 2019 at 10:06
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    Because people choke on the double TT.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 20, 2019 at 20:24
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    There are no "rules" in English. Simple.
    – Fattie
    Oct 21, 2019 at 2:34

1 Answer 1

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The crucial thing is that the last but one syllable of "vomited" has no stress. Not even secondary stress. So the final consonant doesn't double. By contrast, the last but one syllable of "emitted" has stress (because the last syllable of "emit" has stress).

This issue is raised in this question, to which a good answer is given.

Compare:

  • (No stress) marketed, budgeted, edited
  • (Secondary stress) combatted, formatted
  • (Primary stress) patted, petted, pitted, potted, rutted
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    And of course, if the final consonant is silent, it’s never doubled, so it’s debuted, not *debutted, despite the fact that the second syllable has secondary stress. Buffeted (ate from a buffet) and buffetted (knocked, pushed) form a minimal pair in this regard. Oct 20, 2019 at 10:09
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    @Aganju I didn't address "cancelled" because that wasn't in the question. Where the consonant is l, American and British usage differ. American leaves the l single where appropriate; British doubles it (if the l follows a single vowel) regardless of stress.
    – Rosie F
    Oct 20, 2019 at 20:08
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    Nice answer! But: patted, petted, pitted, potted, put? After all, a (golf) putt already has 'tt'. Oct 20, 2019 at 21:49
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    @Fattie It is a 'principle that works'. Whether you choose to call it a rule or not is up to you - this answer doesn't claim as much. It may not work 100% of the time, but if it works 90% of the time, then it is useful. Claiming that we are all in the wilderness with no rules whatsoever is not. Oct 21, 2019 at 7:55
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    Nice answer! At the moment, all "primary stress" examples have two syllables, while the others have three. Would "committed" and "emitted" be examples of "primary stress" words with three syllables?
    – Jake
    Oct 21, 2019 at 17:32

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