Sometimes I hear the emphasis placed on the second syllable, and other times on the second to last syllable. I myself use both pronunciations depending on context, and it makes me wonder if there is an underlying rule that I can't quite put my finger on.
The two pronunciations of Caribbean I know of are mentioned in Wikipedia:
- /kærɨˈbiːən/ (ka-rih-BEE-uhn)
- /kəˈrɪbiən/ (kuh-RIB-ee-uhn)
Both are standard; however, there are a couple proper nouns containing the word Caribbean that have a fixed pronunciation:
I personally make a sort of generalization from this and use #1 for the noun usage and #2 for the adjective usage, but there is no reason anyone else should use this rule unless they like it. Most people probably just stick to one preferred pronunciation.
Billy Ocean uses #1 in his song “Caribbean Queen”, as does Bob Dylan in his song “Caribbean Wind”.
In the UK, the stress is usually on the second to last syllable, cariBBEan. I have heard North Americans say "caRIBbean" and "cariBBEan". I think the first one is more common in the USA. Which one is correct? That is one of those "poteyto/potahto" questions.
Judy Garland Mack The Black ('The Pirate', 1948)
"There's a pirate, known to fame Black Macocco was the Pirate's name In his day, the tops was he Round the CaribBEan or CaRIBbean Sea"
So unless you disagree with Judy Garland, either's possible. Case closed, I think.
It's not about how Americans or Brits pronounce it, people in the West Indies say cariBBEan. They live there, how can anyone argue with that?
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Mar 30 '11 at 10:54
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