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It's clear that this word is usually pronounced /jɪə/, but it seems to me that in some British accents (probably one of them is RP) it's pronounced /jeə/ so that it becomes a homophone of ‘yeah’.

Unfortunately, googling that gave no results, neither did I find such transcription in the dictionaries, but I hear it on Youglish very well: see examples 1, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 11 (the Queen).

So the question is: is this pronunciation really valid?

P.S. My mum was also taught this pronunciation in an English school when she was a child.

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Twenty years ago or so, the main RP pronunciation according to Longman Pronunciation Dictionary was /jɪə/ (80 % against 20 % /jɜː/); /jeə/ is not recorded in this dictionary, which was then a leading dictionary in the domain of the pronunciation of English. Here can be heard that predominant form: Cambridge dictionary. In fact, except for the rhoticity, the American version is the same.

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  • @PeterShor No, not a long i, but a diphthong, as in "here", "ear", "leer", "pier" (/ɪə/, BrE). In AmE the second sound is less prominent or possibly long i with an r at the end (from the sample).
    – LPH
    Jul 29 '21 at 19:22

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