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If you watch this VICE episode, the presenter sounds like a native speaker, but uses "woman" instead of "women" every time (probably over a dozen times in the 10 minute video).

Specifically, the presenter is either pronouncing the word "women" in an unusual way (so: is this some kind of dialect or regional variation?) or he's using the singular "woman" when the plural "women" would be expected (in which case: is there a reason for such usage? Or, if we can't fathom the reporter's reasons, is there precedent for this?).

Examples:

@1:27:

You might have expected the police at these marches to protect the woman

@2:08:

for defending civilization, from woman he branded "barbarians"

@7:13:

as well as the increased restrictions on woman's rights

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    That's just how Australians say 'women'. Jul 5 at 20:35
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    I’m voting to close this question because it makes us watch a video. Jul 5 at 20:36
  • @MichaelHarvey You are not allowed to include a link to a video to illustrate speech? Link to this rule please.
    – bobcat
    Jul 5 at 21:50
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    @MichaelHarvey There's no prohibition on linking to a video or sound recording to illustrate how a word is pronounced: how else do you provide an example? If that's why the question was closed, then this was in error: the question is entirely reasonable, since the reporter is either pronouncing the word "women" in an unusual way (so: is it a regional variation?) or using the singular "woman" when the plural "women" would be expected (so: is there a reason for such usage? Or, if we can't fathom the reporter's reasons, is there precedent for this?). ... Jul 5 at 23:50
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    @MichaelHarvey - Unclear if you were joking, but I agree with Chappo HFM that that is definitely not how Australians pronounce women.
    – nnnnnn
    Jul 6 at 15:18
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TL;DR: this might be a New Zealand pronunciation.

The presenter, Tim Hume, certainly has an intriguing mix of accents. His bio doesn't say where he grew up, but I'm guessing he might have spent some childhood years in Australia, as there's a hint of an Australian accent. The bio also says he studied and worked in New Zealand 1998-2011 and has spent the last decade in Hong Kong and London. So, there are multiple possibilities for particular regional variations or dialects, either in pronunciation or usage.

One comment on the question says "That's just how Australians say 'women'." I'm an Aussie and I can say categorically that this is NOT how Australians say 'women'.

However, it IS possible that the video clip reflects a broad New Zealand pronunciation of this word, in which the vowel sound in the first syllable of women changes from /ɪ/ to /ə/. Wikipedia gives the following relevant description:

Non-rhotic New Zealand English is most similar to Australian English in pronunciation, with some key differences. A prominent difference is the realisation of /ɪ/ (the KIT vowel): in New Zealand English this is pronounced as a schwa.

A broad New Zealand accent would therefore make the plural women sound very similar (to an outsider) to the singular woman, and it's likely that the presenter has acquired and retained this element of the New Zealand accent, even if it's otherwise mostly lost or hard to pick.

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  • " this is NOT how Australians say 'women'" Are you talking about all Australian accents?
    – bobcat
    Jul 7 at 3:36
  • It doesn't seem very likely that a native speaker would switch from "women" to "woman" in adulthood, in my opinion.
    – bobcat
    Jul 7 at 3:37
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    @bobcat I've never heard an Australian say "women" in this way. If you can find evidence of it being a specific regional thing, by all means, share in an answer. Jul 7 at 14:16
  • @GArthurBrown I'm not saying Chappo's wrong. Just trying to clarify the claim. Australia is big.
    – bobcat
    Jul 7 at 22:45
  • @bobcat broad Aussie & NZ accents are easily distinguishable, but living overseas can weaken the difference or even eliminate the accent altogether, which is why I guess at a "hint" of an Aussie accent; his pronunciation of 20 as "twenny" is very Australian, whereas a Kiwi might pronounce it "twinny". But I've listened again to the video, and I simply can't explain his pronunciation of "women": he pronounces other "i" words (eg "similar") with the /ɪ/ sound you'd expect rather than using the NZ /ə/. Maybe, instead, it's a deliberate usage: a VICE style, or personal political statement? Jul 8 at 4:33

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