There is a lengthy thread on the pronunciation of "conch" however I am curious about the plural form "conches." I've noticed that it can be found as "conchs" as well, but "conches" appears to be the prevailing spelling in British usage at least. Insofar as it ends in -es it would imply a second syllable which would lend itself to the softer "ch" sound.

Any opinions?

closed as general reference by tchrist, Matt E. Эллен, MetaEd, JSBձոգչ, Robusto Dec 14 '12 at 1:38

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    What did your dictionary tell you? Why is what it said insufficient? – Marthaª Dec 13 '12 at 14:35

If you pronounce "conch" to rhyme with "honk", the plural is "conchs". If you pronounce "conch" as a near-rhyme with "launch", the plural is "conches".

For how to pronounce "conch", see this question on the pronunciation of conch (they're both used, depending on where you live).

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    I actually have /kɑŋk/ or /kɑntʃ/ for conch, but /lɔːntʃ/ for launch, so those two are too far apart for me to consider them “near rhymes”. Perhaps if I said /kɒŋk/ or /kɒntʃ/, I might, since I don’t find /ɒ/ vs /ɔː/ to be phonemic for me. But /a/ is just too far from /ɔː/ for it to count, at least in my ear. – tchrist Dec 13 '12 at 14:50
  • @tchrist: I pronounce them the same way as you, but /ɑ/ and /ɔ/ somehow count as near-rhymes for me, undoubtedly because I've heard so many people with the cot-caught merger (I spent 9 years in California). – Peter Shor Dec 13 '12 at 15:19
  • I bet that’s it. I’ve never lived there, just visited scores of times. But even so the Californian form of the cot–caught merger always throws me for a loop. – tchrist Dec 13 '12 at 15:26
  • "lunch" would be closer than "launch" – OrangeDog Mar 26 at 10:38

The plural would be based on the pronunciation. As many dictionaries list two pronunciations (e.g., Dictionary.Reference.com), two different plurals are allowed. If you accept the pronunciation of "kongk" your plural would be a matter of a simple -s (conchs, pronounced "kongks"). If you say the word with the "ch" sound (as in "CHew") your plural will be conches, of two syllables.

  • Any references would be very helpful. – Kris Dec 13 '12 at 14:56
  • the dictionary site linked to has both pronunciations and both plurals – rosends Dec 13 '12 at 15:01

According to ODO, the (British) plural of conch is either conchs (/kɒŋks/) or conches (/kɒntʃɪz/). The American equivalents are listed as conchs (/kɑŋks/, /kɒŋks/, or /kɔːŋks/) or conches (/ˈkɑntʃɨz/, /ˈkɒntʃɨz/, or /ˈkɔːntʃɨz/). Similarly, Webster states that its plural can be either conchs or conches.

I had no idea that there were people in the world who pronounce conch as /kɒŋk/, and I expect that those who do, pluralise it as conchs (/kɒŋks/) and those who don’t, pluralise it as conches (/ˈkɒntʃɨz/). Going by the dictionary entries, the variants appear to be prevalent on both sides of the Atlantic.

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    Could you please rewrite those to use IPA? It is pretty meaningless as written. – tchrist Dec 13 '12 at 14:53
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    ...or at least in the same pronunciation standard? It looks like Americans pronounce the spelling "-nk" very differently in AmE and BrE, /NGk/ vs /ŋk/. – Mitch Dec 13 '12 at 14:56
  • @Mitch I am completely certain that no native speaker of English, whether American or otherwise, ever uses /NG/ for /ŋ/. I suppose I can be in a centralized /ä/ but that is phonetic not phonemic. And I have no idea what the heck /ô/ is supposed to mean: it appears to be illegal. – tchrist Dec 13 '12 at 15:06
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    @coleopterist Ok, I touched up your IPA for what I think you meant. – tchrist Dec 13 '12 at 15:17
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    @Kris None of the dictionaries I've checked have entries where the IPA for conchs is along the lines of /kɑntʃs/ or /kɒŋkɪz/ for conches. – coleopterist Dec 13 '12 at 15:19

I’ve always used conches, pronounced with a hard initial c (/k/) and a soft ch (/tʃ/) at the end.

But I also think that spelling it conchs and pronouncing it with with hard initial c (/k/) and hard ch (/k/) at the end is also acceptable.

Which you use I think depends on which side of the pond you’re from!

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