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American Pronunciations of "practice" Oxford advanced American English: /ˈpræktəs/ https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/practice_2

Oxford advanced learner's dictionary: /ˈpræktɪs/ https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/practice_1

The difference is the second vowel ə - ɪ

So which is more common and which is more American? I assume that Oxford advanced American English dictionary always give more American pronunciations than Oxford advanced learner's dictionary, am I correct?

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    Both pronunciations are used.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 2:53
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    Those are exactly the same pronunciation!!!!
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 3:04
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    @tchrist Many would agree with you. As a polyglot with an ear trained for subtle differences, I do perceive a distinct, but (for English) insignificant difference between them. I have learned some languages where about that same degree of difference in the coloration of the vowel can change the meaning of a word.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 3:09
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    @tchrist I hope the goal here is to help the asker understand, not excoriate him or her for not understanding.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 3:14
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    @HotLicks Those are the same pronunciations. Different sounds but still the same pronunciation. That's what is disastrously misunderstood here. Allophones do not count. Only phonemes matter. And citation forms (a word spoken carefully aloud in isolation) are never representative of real pronunciation in fluent connected speech.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 3:31

1 Answer 1

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There is likely no way to properly answer a question like this, owing to wide variation in regional pronunciations and in individual enunciation habits. Both forms are common.

To my ear, the audio for the two pages linked is actually switched up as compared to the transliterated phonetic provided; i.e. the second link, which leads to the "practice_1" page and has "/ˈpræktɪs/" as its pronunciation guide, demonstrates more of a schwa sound on the second syllable than does the first link which has "/ˈpræktəs/" (with the schwa explicitly in the pronunciation guide).

The schwa is the lazy vowel in English, and speakers who are more careful in their pronunciation will often pronounce the vowel more clearly, avoiding the schwa. But these articulate speakers are likely in the minority, which leads me to opine that the version with the schwa, "/ˈpræktəs/", and which follows the pronunciation provided on the other page, is probably more common.

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    This is not true. It is not true that "careful" speakers "avoid" the schwa. Listen to the Queen Herself. It is unnatural not to reduce unstressed vowels, and it is misguided to think there are phonemic differences here.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 3:15

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