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I'm not a native English speaker and I have noticed that 'e' in some words are pronounced like 'a' by native speakers sometimes. For example, "Texas" sounds like "Taxes", or "Sex" sounds like "Sax" (there's even a wordplay for it), or in the famous song "Shape of My Heart", the word "Meditation" sounds like "Maditation".

Is there an explanation for this?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:45
  • Could it be the California vowel shift which has seen /ɛ/ and /æ/ move down and back? Depends where these speakers are from, although someone in an answer mentioned the Kardashians who are from the LA area.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 6 at 14:49

2 Answers 2

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I lived in Texas, and I've never heard anyone pronounce it like "Taxes."

There are regional dialects with different pronunciations of vowels (mostly in single-syllable words) that can confuse listeners.

For example, the southern US may pronounce "e" and "i" similarly which makes "six" sound like "sex," or "pin" and "pen" may sound the same. That article calls it a merged vowel sound.

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  • There is the Marx Brothers pun, with Groucho correcting Chico's 'Taxas' to 'Taxes, as in Dollars, Texas' and being trumped with 'Sure, Dallas, Taxas'. Feb 6 at 15:30
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It is a speech affectation some take on. An example would be the word "best" pronounced as "bast" and have a nasal quality as well, as if the person is talking from the back of the mouth. Mostly young women are the offenders, probably influenced by social media and/or the Kardashians.

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