Questions tagged [pronunciation-vs-spelling]

Questions about putative differences between spelling and pronunciation.

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30 views

Correct pronunciation

Is the correct pronunciation of an English word mutable according to popular usage? I don’t want to mispronounce words the way I hear them used because people ignore the correct spelling ie ibuprofen ...
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0answers
31 views

What are the proper terms for the way you say vs write something?

We all know if something is three-dimensional you would write 3D. If someone says it aloud, you would hear "three dee". What are the right terms for one vs the other? EDIT To further clarify, I am ...
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5answers
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How is 'via' pronounced and where did these variations come from? [closed]

Over the years, I've heard people say 'v-ē-ə', 'v-ī-ə', and sometimes the 'uh' is an 'ah' sound. (edit- It has come to my attention that 'via' was once a 'wee-ah' from Latin, but I don't feel like ...
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0answers
44 views

“An Universal Etymological English Dictionary”. Why “An Universal”?

My question is not about the general usage of a/an, so, I believe, it is not a duplicate one. It is specifically about the title of the dictionary An Universal Etymological English Dictionary ...
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2answers
2k views

Different pronunciation of “o” in done, lone and gone

In what case and why is letter 'o' pronounced as 'ʌ' like in the word 'cut' /kʌt/? Done is pronounced /dʌn/ while other words of the kind are pronounced differently: lone, bone, tone. Why is gone ...
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1answer
379 views

Why is the word 'heroine' not pronounced like 'hero-ine?'

Why is the word 'heroine' not pronounced like 'hero-ine' but instead like 'heroin?' It has the word 'hero' in it and it's the female equivalent of a hero. It's not like I use the word in public often ...
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5answers
3k views

Are there any “-nk-” or “-nc-” words in English where there isn't a “ng” before the “k” sound?

In words like think and lank, we actually seem to be saying "thing-k" and "lang-k." Can anyone thing-k of any words or rules for sound use where this doesn't happen?
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2answers
77 views

How to spell what sounds like “ish” or “eesh”? [duplicate]

I've heard this word a lot of times, but still don't know how to write it down. It's used when you want to show some kind of disgust, or something like that. It sounds like "ish" or "eesh". I've ...
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2answers
5k views

What do you call languages with words that are pronounced the same way they are written?

In some languages such as Korean or Japanese hiragana, the pronunciation of words is exactly derived from the characters in the words. On the other hand, for languages such as English, you cannot ...
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1answer
47 views

Rase: another spelling of raze (literary) [closed]

Is the spelling using s as opposed to z really literary as the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 purportedly explains? Raze 1. completely destroy place: to destroy or level a building or settlement ...
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16answers
8k views

Are there any English words pronounced with sounds/syllables that aren't part of the spelling? [closed]

There are many English words with silent letters, words like gnome or island that are spelt with consonants that aren't pronounced, but are there any words that work the other way round, with a ...
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1answer
123 views

The spelling “ui” and the pronunciation /uː/ in juice, fruit, bruise, cruise, sluice, suit, nuisance, recruit, bruit

The words juice, fruit, bruise, cruise, sluice, suit, pursuit, suitcase, lawsuit, nuisance, recruit, bruit are spelled with ui and pronounced with the IPA phoneme /uː/. Full pronunciations from OED: ...
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1answer
66 views

One letter refers to two sounds — what is it called?

There are words where one letter refers to two different sounds, e.g. eighth, where T exists itself and also makes a /θ/ sound, or threshold, which is sometimes pronounced with a /h/ sound, especially ...
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3answers
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Is there a reason why “gn” in “reigning” is pronounced /n/ while in “regnant” it is pronounced [gn]?

Both reigning and regnant are related to the same Latin noun, regnum. Why is the ‹gn› spelling pronounced [n] in the first word but [gn] in the second?
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2answers
204 views

Why do we pronounce 'Mother' as 'Mather' but we write it as 'Mother'? [closed]

This question was asked by my son: Why do we pronounce 'Mother' as 'Mather' but we write it as 'Mother'? I don't know what to say. He keeps on writing 'Mather'. He is not agreeing. Please suggest ...
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5answers
17k views

Pronunciation of foreign words in American vs. British English?

One of the differences between modern US English (hereafter referred to as "American English") and British English is the way in which we pronounce foreign words, particularly those of French origin ...
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2answers
138k views

What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in “‑s”?

What is the possessive of a noun ending in ‑s? Are these both right, or is the second one wrong? the boys' books the boss' car
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2answers
33k views

Is how've a word?

Every spell check / auto fill I come across does not recognize this word. However, in speech I find it used quite often as in How've you been? (How have you been?) So is this an accepted ...
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9answers
23k views

In what dialects does “often” rhyme with “soften”?

I believe in most English dialects soften is pronounced without a t sound. In some dialects, often is similar, but in others a t sound is quite evident in often. I'm interested not only in which ...
4
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1answer
88 views

Was it ever standard to pronounce “malinger” to rhyme with “ginger”?

In The Pronunciation of Standard English in America, by George Philip Krapp (1919), I found the following surprising statement: For malinger the standard pronunciation is [mə´lɪndʒə̉ɹ], though ...
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10answers
95k views

What is the correct pronunciation of the word “route”?

I have always used both "root" as in route 66 and "rooter" as in the networking device. The latter has gotten me funny looks often, however I could not bring myself to accept the inconsistency. Today ...
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3answers
1k views

What's the current scholarly opinion on the “minims” explanation for the spelling of “love”, “tongue,” etc?

According to the Online Etymology dictionary (as cited in this question How was the letter -u- written in Old English?): The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- before -m-, -n-,...
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2answers
595 views

Did the non-standard pronunciation of “gold” as “goold” come from an Old English sound change?

John Walker in his Critical Pronunciation Dictionary (1791) transcribes the pronunciation of the word “gold” as go¹ld, or go²o²ld which in modern transcription equates to /goʊld/ or /guːld/. He ...
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5answers
7k views

Why does the pronunciation of “U” vary in English?

The letter U is pronounced differently in different words such as Umbrella and Utensils, as well as when it is Used inside of words such as stUdent and stUdy. Can I please have a grammatical ...
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1answer
74 views

How does one read aloud a birth year with no death year? Eg: John Smith (1994 – )

It is common to notate someone's lifespan using the syntax [year of birth] – [year of death]. When the subject is still living, you simply omit the death year, such as 1994 –. When reading this aloud,...
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4answers
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Pronunciation of “Paraguay”

The English article for Paraguay in Wikipedia mentions that Paraguay is pronounced as /ˈpɛərəɡweɪ/, which matches the pronunciation recommended by Merriam-Webster. However, inogolo recommends /...
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7answers
36k views

Why did “sceptical” become “skeptical” in the US?

Compare the following two Google Ngram Viewer charts for sceptical vs. skeptical in American English and British English: British English American English My interpretation of these charts is that: ...
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4answers
20k views

How to pronounce “twenty” correctly?

Well, I usually say "twenny" instead of "twenty" (not "twendy" even). I recently noticed that I never heard the same from any native english speakers during any talks I ever had with them. Recently I ...
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1answer
262 views

How do you spell windey? [closed]

sorry dumb question, but: How do you spell "windy" as in a winding road could be described as "windy" Not to be confuse with "the weather is windy" Also, is there a better way I could have figured ...
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5answers
7k views

Why is most North American speech rhotic?

Most North American speech is rhotic—why is that? Does it come from the early English settlers or perhaps from the Irish settlers?
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2answers
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Use of “f ” instead of “s” in historic, printed English documents

I was at a museum in London yesterday, and one of the items on exhibit is a document from the eighteenth century. It uses the letter f a lot where s should be used—for example, in Majefty. Did the ...
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13answers
60k views

Can a word be contracted twice (e.g. “I'ven't”)?

I've seen a contraction of two words. I can't see why it wouldn't be possible to contract twice. Is it possible and how should it be punctuated? Update: Ok, to sum up the answers so far This ...
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2answers
76 views

Different etymologies for spoken and written forms

I know a word in another language which appears at first to have a highly irregular spelling that does not match the pronunciation. However, further examination suggests that the spoken and written ...
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7answers
5k views

Why is “oh” spelled “oh” and not “o”?

Oh my! In the above example, to me, "oh" seems to suggest one should pronounce "o" as a short vowel, whereas "o", seems to suggest one should pronounce "o" as a long vowel. In other words, I would ...
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1answer
62 views

Pronunciation vs Spelling of Done [closed]

Why is 'Done' pronounced with a short ŏ vowel sound instead of the long ō vowel sound? Rules typically dictate when a word ends with an E, it changes the O to a long vowel sound. I've tried to find ...
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4answers
14k views

Why did only English undergo the Great Vowel Shift, making pronunciation stray so far from spelling?

Lots of people have wondered why English seems to be one of very few languages with such irregular spelling, far from its pronunciation. The answers include the Norman invasion, and the Great Vowel ...
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1answer
224 views

I pronounce question as kweshtin. Is my pronunciation wrong?

I've lived in Houston,TX for about 10 years and after that I moved to the ME and I've made friends since then. Whenever they heard me say kweshtin they told me my pronunciation was weird. I told them ...
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2answers
8k views

What is the proper pronunciation for Kipling's character-name “Mowgli”?

Does the first syllable rhyme with “glow” or with “how”? It is no use appealing to the Hindi for “Little Frog” or anything else, since Kipling confessed to making ...
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1answer
51 views

GAOL origin isn't English [closed]

If the origin is French and the British have adapted it, why would they claim America corrupted the so-called English version if it wasn't theirs to begin with? And why must a simple word like jail ...
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2answers
3k views

What is the term for a shortened word that is pronounced based on phantom letters?

I'm only posting out of curiosity. But recently I've begun to wonder what you would call a shortening of a word that only sounds correct when spoken, and the pronunciation cannot be inferred from its ...
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3answers
5k views

Why are the words “lose” and “choose” written differently and pronounced the same way?

I do know that there isn't only one pronunciation for syllables, and I also know that there isn't only one way to write a phoneme, but this intrigues me a lot. Lose is spelled with only one O, and it'...
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2answers
40k views

Why is the “a” in “cocoa” silent?

Not being a native speaker of English, one of those words that tripped me up is “cocoa”. Besides having its vowels inverted from “cacao”; it also is pronounced exactly the same as “coco”, whereas “...
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2answers
577 views

What effect do neighboring vowel-letters have on the pronunciation of the letters “sc” in a word?

Consider these words, with standard pronunciations from Oxford Dictionaries Online using in the worldwide-standard International Phonetic Alphabet: conscious, pronounced /ˈkɒnʃəs/ eschew, pronounced /...
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5answers
9k views

Different pronunciation between Thomas and Theodore

Disclaimer: I'm no native speaker. Thomas gets pronounced with a starting "T" (the "h" is silent), while Theodore with a "Th". What rule is followed here?
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4answers
4k views

Why did the letter “o” disappear in the word “pronunciation”?

The verb pronounce has the letter o in its second syllable, but in the noun pronunciation, that same letter disappears from the corresponding position. Why is that?
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1answer
71 views

When does a word end in 't' vs 'te'. eg. Why 'context' does not end with an 'e' but 'participate' does? [closed]

English is not our first language. Practising English dictation with my 6-year-old it is always confusing to know from the sound of the word when it ends in 't' or 'te', is there a rule when a word ...
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2answers
4k views

What is “Gatcha” short for? [closed]

What is gatcha short for? Is it standard English, or is it used in the spoken language only?
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3answers
639 views

Interested in 'naive' pronunciation

I'd like to know why 'naive' is pronounced ny-eve but is spelt naive. Where is the ny part coming from? 'na-' isn't pronounced ny, and if the ny part is nai-, then there is only -ve left. This is ...
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1answer
625 views

How do I tell the difference between 'dd' and 'tt' in words?

I have a spelling bee today and I would like some tips on how to differentiate 'tt' and 'dd' in words. Words like bottle and prattle have a 'tt', but most people pronounce it like a 'dd', like in ...
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2answers
6k views

Pronunciation of double G: soft “gg” versus hard “gg”

When I was a student, I was taught double G is normally hard, as in "agglomerate", "aggregate", "foggy", "aggressive", "dagger", "trigger", "niggard", "doggerel", etc, the exceptions being "exaggerate"...