Questions tagged [pronunciation-vs-spelling]

Questions about putative differences between spelling and pronunciation.

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10
votes
2answers
12k views

How is the ending -le or -el determined?

I'm busy working on a ladle model at the moment, and as I am idle and inattentive this phrase sometimes comes out as ladel model, sometimes ladle modle, and sometimes ladel modle in addition to the ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Pronunciation of verbiage and foliage

To my ear, the former should be pronounced "vurb-ij" and the latter "fohl-ee-ij" (the endings may vary among "aj", "edge" and "ij"). I occasionally hear people say "vurb-ee-ij" and often hear "fohl-...
48
votes
9answers
283k views

Data pronunciation: “dayta” or “dahta”?

I hear "dayta" more often, but what's the correct pronunciation?
46
votes
9answers
49k views

Why is “primer” pronounced with a short “i” sound?

This word—used to mean an elementary textbook, not a painting material—annoys me to no end. Does anyone know why, exactly, "primer" is pronounced with a short "i" sound? I don't know why, call it ...
67
votes
6answers
5k views

How come 'ou' was reduced to 'o' in the US?

Americans write color and favorite, when others say colour and favourite. How/why did this happen?
32
votes
2answers
43k views

What's the deal with “colonel”?

Why does the word colonel (as in military rank) have such a strange spelling compared to how it's pronounced (or vice versa, although I don't know how you would pronounce that)?
7
votes
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?
10
votes
1answer
66k views

Spelling “Yeah” and “Yea”

When I read the words "yea" or "yeah", each spelling can mean two different things. An exclamation of joy, as in, Yea[h] for ice cream!` Assent, like "yep" or "yes", as in, Yea[h], Mom, of ...
23
votes
4answers
70k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
4
votes
2answers
22k views

Sounds of the letter a [closed]

How can I know, precisely, when to differentiate the sounds of the letter a, like in: apple and vault?
11
votes
5answers
30k views

How should I pronounce “Worcestershire” as a rhotic English speaker?

I'm aware that the English county of Worcestershire is pronounced in Britain as ['wu:stəʃə], more or less. However, this is a non-rhotic pronunciation, and it feels very unnatural for me to use this ...
5
votes
3answers
988 views

Difference between 'kludge' and 'kluge'?

As far as I can tell the two have different etymologies and have both possible pronunciations, CLUH-J and CLOO-J but seem to be used interchangeably. I had not idea CLOO-J even existed until my school ...
10
votes
4answers
86k views

Is it wrong to pronounce “pizza” as “peedtza”?

I was extremely mocked by colleagues (good humor) when I said the word "pizza" in the middle of the conversation. Given my accent, the way I pronounced it was closer to "peedtza", with a slight ...
42
votes
5answers
3k views

Does the quirky spelling in English actually make it easier to read?

I just finished reading the question asked by Bobnix, in which RegDwight referred to another question with an interesting answer by Kosmonaut. Kosmonaut refers to the great number of pictograms (Kanji ...
11
votes
4answers
12k views

Why does “ow” have two different sounds

Why is it that the "ow" in now makes the /aʊ/ sound while "ow" in snow makes the /oʊ/ sound? Has this always been, was it spelled differently and then changed, or was it spelled this way but the sound ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Why is baba ghanouj pronounced with a final “sh” sound?

Baba ghanouj is a delicious Middle Eastern dip made from roast eggplant and garlic. I've found the name spelled a multitude of different ways on the internet, but there are two peculiar things about ...
0
votes
3answers
9k views

Aspirated letters vs. Silent letters

How are aspirated letters different from silent letters when pronouncing a word?
13
votes
8answers
144k views

Is there a rule in British English about how to pronounce “either”?

There are two common pronunciations of "either": British /ˈaɪðər/ and American /ˈiːðər/. If Americans are more or less consistent in this regard, then the Brits seem to be freely using both. In fact, ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

How to pronounce family names?

Does anyone know a tool to look up names like Rumbaugh? Sometimes I hear something like "rumba" or even "rambo". Is there a dictionary where I could look up the correct pronunciation?
38
votes
5answers
71k views

Why is the spelling of “pronounce” and “pronunciation” different?

Why is the spelling of pronounce and pronunciation different? If one originally did not know the spelling of pronunciation, one would when hearing it verbally deduce its spelling to be pronounciation, ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

English letter sequence with most pronunciations

The letters -ough- can be pronounced a ridiculous number of different ways in English. Here is a possibly incomplete list: tough, enough cough, trough bough, plough though, dough thought, bought ...
14
votes
1answer
13k views

Why is “blood” pronounced the way it is?

I mean, why isn't it pronounced "blue-d" rather than "blud". And this applies to "flood" too, but not "glood" or "clood" I imagine.
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any rhyme or reason to when one should double the last consonant when adding -ed or -ing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: focussed or focused? The double consonant Sometimes, final consonants are doubled when adding -ed or -ing to the end of a verb whose penultimate letter is a vowel. stop → ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

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 /...
10
votes
3answers
6k views

What rules of English allow the first t in “patient” to make an sh sound?

What rules of the English language allow the first t in patient to make an sh sound? Why is it /ˈpeɪʃənt/ and not /ˈpeɪtənt/? Are there any other words where t behaves in this way?
15
votes
2answers
13k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
49
votes
6answers
101k views

What is “won't” a contraction of?

"Don't", "wouldn't", "couldn't" and "isn't" are all contractions of "do not", "would not", "could not" and "is not"... So what's "won't" a contraction of? It appears to be "will not", but if so, why ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Pronunciation of “often” [duplicate]

How should often be pronounced in formal speech? "off-ten" or "of-fen"?
32
votes
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 ...
1
vote
3answers
804 views

If ‘pronunciation’ pairs with ‘sound’, which word should ‘spelling’ pair with?

If pronunciation pairs with sound, which word should spelling pair with?
12
votes
7answers
3k views

“Your” vs. “you're”: Why the confusion?

I have seen many comments on different blogs and forums where English native speakers spelled you're as your. I'm not a native speaker, but I know and understand the difference between the two. Why is ...
8
votes
3answers
9k views

How to pronounce Louis Armstrong

I think the standard Irish/British pronunciation is as in Louis the king. But musicians seem to say "Lewis". I've heard people say Joe Louis as in the king as well. Is this wrong?
55
votes
3answers
15k views

Why do some words have two past tense forms (e.g. “dreamed” vs. “dreamt”)?

While perusing ShreevatsaR's answer to this question, it occurred to me that my own verbal usage is out of step with what I see in current American literature. When speaking in the past tense, I ...
5
votes
3answers
9k views

How do you pronounce “would've”, “should've” and “could've”?

How do you pronounce "would've", "should've" and "could've"?
17
votes
14answers
8k views

When is it appropriate to use the original pronunciation of a foreign word versus the English pronunciation?

When reading to an audience, or speaking in conversation, when is it appropriate to use the original pronunciation of a foreign word versus the English pronunciation (assuming you know the appropriate ...
86
votes
2answers
137k 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
10
votes
3answers
16k views

Why English pronunciation differs so much from written language, compared to German?

Given that English is derived mostly from German, when Anglo-Saxons (German tribes) migrated to Britain, how do you explain that although German has a strict correspondence between written language ...
11
votes
3answers
24k views

When to use 'an' and when to use 'a' with words begining with 'h'?

Some h-words need 'an' for the indefinite article (I will be there in an hour). Other h-words need 'a' for the indefinite article (It is a history of sadness). Is there a general rule?
26
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies?

Written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies. Consider what the written vowels in the romance languages represent. Also, for example, consider this simple comparision between a ...
39
votes
13answers
59k 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 ...