6

The OED suggests both a short and a long 'i' are acceptable without assigning either to the UK or to the US:

  • ur i nal — /ˈjʊərɪnəl/

and

  • ur eye nal — /jʊəˈrnəl/

In my limited experience the only people who pronounce it with the long 'i' are from Great Britain. Conversely, I don't think I've ever heard an English person use the pronunciation with the short 'i'; my sample population is very small, however. Is this a regional-, age-, or class-dependent thing?

6
  • The second syllable is open, and open syllables in English usually have long vowels/diphthongs. Compare decisivedesaisive. Dec 2, 2020 at 11:43
  • This is dictionary stuff.
    – BillJ
    Dec 2, 2020 at 12:11
  • 1
    @Decapitated Soul: Short vowels can be in open unstressed syllables. Surely you don't pronounce capital like /ˈkapaɪtəl/ (CAP-eye-təl). Dec 2, 2020 at 14:33
  • @PeterShor: Good catch! Dec 2, 2020 at 14:45
  • I have suggested an edit to the question title to make it less subjective and less likely to invite anecdotal answers. Given that this question has ended up on the Hot Network Questions list, I would like to remind visitors that the usual Stack Exchange guidelines on how to write a good answer apply here too — and, in particular, that good answers are generally expected to provide more than just personal anecdotes. Dec 2, 2020 at 15:26

3 Answers 3

1

The OED gives the pronunciation as both /jʊəˈrʌɪnəl/ and /ˈjʊərɪnəl/ without distinguishing between AE and BE.

I have a tendency towards:

As a noun: a place or vessel in which to urinate /jʊəˈrʌɪnəl/

"The gents' urinals are on the left."

As an adjective: relating to the urinary system, /ˈjʊərɪnəl/

"I am afraid you have a urinal infection."

4
  • Can you specify if you speak AmE or BrE (and are representative of it)?
    – Mitch
    Dec 2, 2020 at 13:43
  • 1
    I am a BE speaker originally from the East Midlands but also with decades spent in East Yorkshire and the South. I cannot say whether I am representative (I'm not sure what it means) but I have spoken it all my life.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 2, 2020 at 15:49
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure it's /jʊəˈrnəl/ rather than /jʊəˈrʌɪnəl/. Dec 2, 2020 at 15:57
  • I'm asking about representative because a personal attestation is only about one person, but a representative one tells something about how many people do it. People are sometimes aware of their own regional accents or personal idiosyncrasies. Saying 'I have a tendency towards' means 'I am only talking about myself and this doesn't reflect on anybody else' (which is of little utility, and only worth a comment); 'In BrE people say' means that you think you have a good ear for what most people say (like what an editor at OED thinks).
    – Mitch
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:03
-1

Wiktionary gives regions for the pronunciations:

(Received Pronunciation) ... IPA: /juːˈɹaɪnəl/

(US) ... IPA: /ˈjʊɹɪnəl/, /ˈjɝɪnəl/

(General Australian) ... IPA: /ˈjʉːəɹɪnəl/

I don't know where you're from, Marc, but Received Pronunciation (RP) is "the Queen's English," and /aɪ/ is the long-i sound you're asking about. It would rhyme with "final."

It looks like Forvo only has recordings for American English, because I was curious about how the Australian one would be pronounced, but it looks like it would rhyme with the American pronunciation, not the British one.

Although Wiktionary doesn't slavishly cite anything, it's regional pronunciations are usually fine, and this agrees with other answers on this page.

4
  • There are recordings of BE-RP, AE, and various other dialect pronunciations at wordreference.com/definition/urinal. However, there seems to be little rhyme or reason behind the pronunciations and I get the impression that another set of speakers would have given another set of answers.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 2, 2020 at 15:57
  • @Greybeard Not being British, they seem fine to me. What would you say should be different? Dec 2, 2020 at 16:00
  • The Australian pronunciation uses the British vowel for the u and the American vowel for the i, but all the vowels are pronounced with an Australian accent. Dec 3, 2020 at 14:29
  • @PeterShor Well yes, i can see that, but i was having a hard time imagining it Dec 3, 2020 at 15:12
-2

I, along with everyone I've ever heard say "urinal", pronounces it with an "ih" sound rather than an "eye" sound. I hope that helped!

5
  • 9
    It isn't helpful if you don't say what region you are from! Dec 2, 2020 at 8:31
  • 2
    From UK, I only hear/say the 'eye' sound. I have been to US, but I never heard such words used openly, only euphemisms like "bath room" which boggles the imagination. Dec 2, 2020 at 10:01
  • 3
    They pee in the bath? Dec 2, 2020 at 10:47
  • 4
    Pretty much the same in the US. "Your-eye-nul" would get strange looks.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 2, 2020 at 13:36
  • @MichaelHarvey - We pee in a urinal (rhymes with journal) which is located in the bathroom if it’s in a residence or in the restroom if it’s in a public space. Although most bathrooms don’t have urinals just toilets. :-)
    – Jim
    Dec 6, 2020 at 17:14

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