Questions tagged [pronunciation-vs-spelling]

Questions about putative differences between spelling and pronunciation.

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Phonetic symbol - superscript h in Which [duplicate]

Q1) What is the meaning of the small h (superscript h) in the phonetic symbols of which shown in Collins? ʰwɪ̠tʃ the small h means 'complete silence' (= just ignore h) the small h means 'pronounce ...
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  • 177
2 votes
0 answers
59 views

When is the "t" pronounced in won’t, don’t, can’t?

I am a speaker of Canadian English. I have noticed that when people pronounce won’t, don’t, and can’t, often when speaking normally, they don’t release the “t”, as in connected speech. The standard ...
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  • 549
5 votes
1 answer
556 views

Pronunciation: /ɪ/ becomes /ə/ in "William" or "Wilkinson"?

I sometimes hear words like "Willam" or "Wilkinson" pronounced like /'wəl-jəm/ or /'wəɫ̩-kən-sən/, rather than /'wɪɫ̩-jəm/ or /'wɪɫ̩-kən-sən/. In other words, the /wɪɫ̩/ cluster is ...
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  • 53
-3 votes
2 answers
136 views

Why is Chaos pronounced with K not like SH? [closed]

Chaos one of the hardest words for me to remember how to type, the reason mostly how it is spelled is not (at least in my mind) how it should be written. Do I miss something related to 'CH' ...
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  • 95
0 votes
1 answer
376 views

Should we pronounce "Macedonia" with a hard k?

I know that many words loaned from Greek to English have gone through a transition from a hard-k kappa to a soft sibilant sound. For example, English "cybernetics" comes from Greek "...
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  • 101
3 votes
1 answer
109 views

“One syllable” words ending in -re

I’m an American (in upper Midwest) teaching my child about one-syllable words ending in Silent E, such as kite, which makes gives first vowel a long vowel sound. You might know these as VCe syllables (...
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  • 211
0 votes
1 answer
94 views

How to accent the 'a'/second syllable in Oscar?

If you had a character (male) called Oscar but the emphasis was on the second syllable how would you write that? With a macron on the a? For example, pronounced Oscarr or Oscaar (with the a sound from ...
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  • 210
3 votes
2 answers
181 views

How can “Harold” and “Herald” ever sound the same?

I was reading a book¹ recently where the main protagonist is fixated on homonyms and has rules that proper nouns are not homonyms and gives Harold and herald as an example of words that sound the same ...
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4 votes
1 answer
391 views

How did English come to use a writing system which makes spelling it so hard?

Alphabetic writing systems use graphemes to represent phonemes. But in their “Psychology of Reading” chapter of 2003’s Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, researchers Simon Garrod and Meredyth Daneman ...
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1 answer
95 views

Did you initially thought "comparable" was pronounced as "com-pair-able"? [duplicate]

And were you surprised to learn it pronounced as "com-pra-ble"?
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1 vote
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Why appear, appearance are spelled with "ea", but apparent, apparently are spelled with "a"? [closed]

For the word appear, the verb and noun are spelled with "ea", but the adverb and adjective are spelled with "a", why do they have different vowels given that they have the same ...
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3 votes
1 answer
453 views

Why are "mobile" and "automobile" pronounced differently?

I just came across the words and then I looked them both up in the dictionary app, which shows the word "mobile" pronounces as /'məʊbaɪl/, whereas the other word-"automobile", ...
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-3 votes
4 answers
367 views

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake? [duplicate]

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake? For example: Your the best. This iz the end. I likes music. She preatend to be asleep. One method is to read the erroneous sentence aloud (...
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1 vote
1 answer
259 views

Why is "soccer" pronounced with a hard "c"?

I have seen that in "soccer", the 'c' is pronounced as 'k', though it is followed by 'e'. The word "soccer" comes from "(As)soc(iation football) + -er". But even in "...
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1 vote
2 answers
226 views

Why the "oo" in "noon" is pronounced sounding like "you" while the word "moon" isn't? [closed]

I was taught to pronounce the oo in either afternoon or noon as /u:/ ~~the oo in nook~~ until I found some native speakers pronounce the noon sounding like new-n (videos). But the AmE IPA in the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
135 views

Does English allow /eɪʃ/ in the end of a syllable (in the same syllable)?

The sound /ʃ/ is almost always spelled with more than one letter i.e. with a digraph unlike, say, /p/ which is spelled with a single letter (pan, pen, pie). I have noticed a particular pattern: vowels ...
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0 votes
1 answer
61 views

How would you write the word /ˈtɪə.rɒn/? [closed]

I'm writing a book and made a word called /ˈtɪə.rɒn/ (reading it like TEARdrop + iRON, or something like TEARON). The story is supposed to be medieval fantasy and I'm not a native speaker so I'm not ...
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1 vote
1 answer
107 views

How was ‘only’ (‘onely’) pronounced in early modern English?

I have noticed in some older English literature, that ‘only’ is written ‘onely’. Was this merely an example of historical spelling, or does it reveal an earlier pronunciation not as modern /ˈəʊnlɪ/, ...
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6 votes
2 answers
458 views

Why does the word ‘suffix’ have a double ‘ff’ while ‘prefix’ has a single ‘f’?

While writing the word ‘suffix’, I stopped to do a spellcheck as a result of the ‘ff’. I did not do so with the word ‘prefix’ as I was comfortable with the ‘pre’ and ‘fix’. I looked up ‘ff’ vs. ‘f’ ...
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1 vote
0 answers
163 views

The "Elephant and Apple" - Phonetical Spelling of NY(C) with normal letters [closed]

Some toponyms change over time: Be it by pronunciation (Los Angeles, New Orleans) or by changing the wording/spelling to either make more sense to the speaker (the London district "Elephant and ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
60 views

Is this a bet or a dare? [closed]

If i tell a friend to climb a car an he get’s 2 euro if he does this. Is this than a bet or a dare?
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14 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is there a distinction between “victuals” and “vittles” that exists in writing but not in speech?

As I set out on this project I noticed that there are already several questions at EL&U referring to the words here in question. But what can I do? In Merriam-Webster’s entry for victuals, it is ...
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0 votes
1 answer
211 views

Why does "broad" not rhyme with "boat"?

The word "broad" is pronounced /brɔːd/ (some US accents: /brɑːd/) instead of */brəʊd/. The spelling -OA- somehow suggests that these words are closely related and/or were pronounced the same ...
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1 vote
1 answer
753 views

Why is the P silent in "coup" and "corps"?

Corps = /kɔː(r)/: the PS is silent Coup = /kuː/: the P is silent Corps Etymology Dictionary says "from French corps d'armée (16c.), which apparently was picked up in English during Marlborough's ...
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2 votes
1 answer
108 views

Why "admit" with T but "admissible" with SS? [duplicate]

I have noticed that when the suffix -ible is added to "admit", it becomes "admissible" rather than "admittible". There are few other examples: "omit" = "...
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2 votes
0 answers
87 views

Words Starting With the Vowel "I"

As a volunteer English teacher to newly landed to-be citizens of Canada, please bear with me, as I am trying to be as specific as possible, without being overtly wordy. The word of the day in Merriam-...
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6 votes
2 answers
295 views

Why did some English verbs lose nasal endings?

I saw this ending in many words of Old English origin where a word has -an in Old English but then lost in Modern English. Examples: habban, climban, sceþþan, singan, offrian etc. I noticed another ...
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1 vote
1 answer
96 views

Why g in gel sounds as j

Gel and jel are homophones, but why g sounds as j in that case (and similar words as gelatin)? Is it related to word origin? Borrowed from French gélatine (“jelly, gel”), from Italian gelatina (“...
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8 votes
5 answers
2k views

Two 'x's in "anti-vaxxer"

I have always found myself impulsively and automatically spelling "anti-vaxxer" with two 'x's, and a Google search indicates that most other media sources did the same; however, I can't ...
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3 votes
7 answers
951 views

Where does "Whatcha" & "Didja" come from?

Does anyone know where "Whatcha" and/or "Didja" originate from? Watcha: What did you? Didja: Did you? Edit: I cannot find these words in my English Grammar books and they are ...
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0 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why is the sound 'air' in words like 'chair', 'pear' and 'where' considered a phoneme? Should it not be considered a blend of the sound? [closed]

We know that phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in speech, and that in the IPA, each character represents only one sound. Wouldn't 'air' be considered two sounds - the combination of the sound /...
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1 vote
2 answers
638 views

What rule governs "panic->panicking" and why? Would it apply to all -ic verbs? [duplicate]

It seems odd that the continual tense of "to panic" is "panicking". Or "picnic->picnicking". When did the "k" get added, and why? Surely the natural ...
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0 votes
1 answer
603 views

What’s the rule for the sound of the letter A in the middle of three-letter words?

How do you actually pronounce A when it's in the middle of a 3 letter word like mac or rap? I hear many Americans say those words with a clear AAA sound, like the AA sound of the start of the word ...
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  • 1,143
0 votes
2 answers
921 views

Why is the word "cello" pronounced with CH /tʃ/ and not S?

I have always been pronouncing the word "cello" and "ciao" with a /s/ sound but today I found out that they were actually /tʃ/ ⟨ch⟩. It is /ˈtʃɛloʊ/ and /ˈtʃaʊ/. The letter C gives ...
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1 vote
0 answers
34 views

Why are spoken and written English so different? [duplicate]

This is in some way a question regarding the evolution of the English language: why did it happen that, more than any alphabetic lamguage that I know of, English language has developed such ...
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  • 111
1 vote
2 answers
442 views

Pronunciation of ‘monotonous'

I am just curious why 'monotonous' is pronounced mo·not·o·nous and not mono.tonous following the Greek origin of the word as mono + tone. Mono and tone could be pronounced alone and actually they ...
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  • 115
-2 votes
1 answer
73 views

Do native English speakers pronouce b as m?

I very often study English and try to improve my listening skill with some educational materials. And I just encountered a sentence, "Once he made an alarm clock for cats – you know, to wake them ...
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1 vote
1 answer
1k views

Why is there a ‘w’ in the word ‘Answer’? [closed]

This might sound silly. I understand ‘w’ is silent. But what purpose does ‘w’ serve? Why is it important to have ‘w’ in there? Why not just ‘Anser’ like it’s pronounced?
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-2 votes
2 answers
353 views

Why are 'electric', 'electricity' and 'electrician' pronounced differently?

Why is the ⟨c⟩ in electric, electricity and electrician pronounced differently? Electric → /ɪˈlɛktrɪk/ Electricity → /ˌɛl.ɪkˈtrɪs.ə.ti/ Electrician → /ˌɪl.ɛkˈtrɪʃ.ən/ My main question is: why is the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
3k views

Rules for pronouncing the “gh” sound [duplicate]

In English, we have many words ending in or containing “gh”, but in some cases, the two letters are silent, while in others, it is pronounced as “f” . We have the words tough, rough, and draught, ...
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  • 943
3 votes
0 answers
225 views

How did English final /əl/ come to usually be spelled "le"?

English has suffixes spelled "-le" and pronounced /əl/ with several meanings. However, they variously come from Old English -el, -ol, -ul, and -lian. Of these, only -lian has a vowel after ...
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1 vote
0 answers
34 views

Why are the reasons behind the common pronunciation-spelling mismatches in English?

For example, why aren't "t"s pronounced like "d"s spelled as "d"s? Why isn't spot spelled sbot? What about "ph"s and "gh"s? I'd like to form a ...
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3 votes
1 answer
216 views

Why does the noun "assumption" lose the "p" when it goes to verb form: "assume?"

Nouns such as "consumption," "assumption," and "presumption" all have the letter "p" but their verb forms, "consume," "assume," and "presume" do not. Why is that? Is there a simple linguistics reason?...
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  • 133
0 votes
2 answers
529 views

Why is the 'cy' in cycle and cynic pronounced differently

Consider the following example: Cynic → /ˈsɪn.ɪk/ Cylinder → /ˈsɪl.ɪn.də(r)/ Cycle → /ˈsʌɪk(ə)l/ Cynic and cylinider are stressed on first syllables yet the cy is pronounced /sɪ/ and not /saɪ/ (as ...
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2 votes
1 answer
717 views

Why is h silent in honor but not in hone

Hone and honor both start with "hon" but h is silent in honor but not in hone. I googled it and searched everywhere but didn't find the answer. Can you help me please?
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22 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why does "signature" have a "g" sound but "sign" doesn't?

The following words don't have /g/ sound: sign, resign, design. But why is there a "g" sound in the following derived words? Signature, resignation, designate. I searched their etymologies because I ...
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5 votes
2 answers
541 views

Solve and resolve pronunciation

Solve starts with /s/ sound and when a prefix re- is added to it, it is pronounced with /z/ sound. Why does it happen? Solve -> /sɒlv/ Resolve -> /rɪˈzɒlv/
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1 vote
2 answers
480 views

Why are river and sliver pronounced with a short vowel, but rover and slider pronounced with long vowels?

Why are river and sliver pronounced with a short vowel, but rover and slider pronounced with long vowels? Is it because the latter two examples are words made by attaching the -er suffix to an ...
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1 vote
1 answer
428 views

Why are conscience and science pronounced differently?

Conscience has a /ʃ/ sound in the middle of the word. Science has a /saɪ/ sound, not a /ʃ/ sound. What rule makes conscience have the /ʃ/ sound and what rule makes science have the /saɪ/ sound? They ...
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  • 21
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Pronunciation of 'has' (/z/ or /s/) before /tʃ/

When 's' comes before a voiced consonant, it's usually pronounced as /z/. Example: He has been banned. (here 's' is pronounced as /z/ because the following consonant is voiced.) On the other hand, ...
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