8 votes
Accepted

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

There is actually a phonological change in some American English accents where General American /ɪ/ is moving towards [ə]. This change is part of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, which has been ...
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  • 1,108
6 votes
Accepted

Why are "just" and "justice" written with a "j", while "language" is written with a "g", when they all come from Latin?

The consonant "g" has rules (which have many, many exceptions) about when you pronounce it /g/ and when you pronounce it /dʒ/. When it's before a "u", "o", or "a&...
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5 votes
Accepted

Why is 'u' in "study" short if the 'u' in "student" is long?

It's most likely because the verb study was borrowed earlier than the noun student. The Oxford English Dictionary says that study may in part be from an Old English borrowing from Latin. Old English, ...
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  • 74.7k
5 votes

Should we pronounce "Macedonia" with a hard k?

With issues like this the "correct" pronunciation is based on usage, and to a lesser extent your desire to have people understand you. "Macedonia" is pretty much always pronounced ...
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  • 21.8k
5 votes

Why is Chaos pronounced with K not like SH?

"Chaos," "Chiropractor," "Character," "chiral," "chorus," and "charisma" are all words ultimately from Greek and pronounced with an initial /...
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3 votes

Correct pronunciation

Yes, the "correct" pronunciation of an English word does not exist. English, like most languages has accents and dialects and pronunciation of words will vary from place to place.
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  • 29.4k
3 votes

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

First, notice how most American speakers also rhyme Harold and herald with Gerald, caroled, imperiled, and double-barreled. This happens because for most speakers of American English, stressed vowels ...
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  • 128k
3 votes

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

Pretty simple. I would pronounce both words ˈhɛɹəld. Wiktionary confirms this and even lists the two words as homophones. It has audio so you can hear what it sounds like too.
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  • 2,281
3 votes

Why is Chaos pronounced with K not like SH?

Chaos comes from greek χάος; it starts with the greek letter "chi," which has a hard pronunciation. Many similar words are rendered with a "ch": chorus, christ, chrono-, etc. Maybe ...
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  • 5,613
3 votes

“One syllable” words ending in -re

Syllables are largely unnecessary to describe the ...i_e spelling pattern The textbook is correct in stating that the spelling pattern found in fire, wire, tire can be equated to the spelling pattern ...
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  • 74.7k
2 votes

Why is "liquorice" pronounced (or spelt) so strangely?

It's possible that the pronunciation of the common noun liquorice was influenced by the plant's Latinized genus name Liquiritia, anglicized as /lɪkwɪɹɪʃə/ (and these days less often used than the ...
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  • 1,108
2 votes

Etymology of "If I had my druthers..."

Early 'druthers' in New England I ran a Google Books search for early instances of "druthers" and found, in addition to the 1868 instance from Our Boys and Girls mentioned in mgkrebbs's ...
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  • 152k
2 votes

Which one of “Andrey” or “Andrei” is the better romanization of the Russian name “Андрей” for English speakers?

This is the second recent question about Romanizing proper names from languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet. I know little about any of these languages, but as this is an English Language site I ...
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  • 10.6k
2 votes

Pronunciation of the words 'height' and 'weight'

In a comment RegDwigнt long ago wrote: Height used to be written with an ie, and weight with an i. (And in Middle Dutch it was oo and i, and in German it's ö and i...) So yes, it evolved that way. ...
2 votes

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

Presumably Oscar is not English. You could indicate this and the pronunciation by using an accent: Oscár. Accents are not used in English, and can be used in other languages to indicate stress. A ...
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  • 95.6k
2 votes

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

Adding to the comment by John Lawler: According to An Introduction to Language, 5th Edition (Victoria Fromkin & Robert Rodman, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993): "The ...
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1 vote

Why are "just" and "justice" written with a "j", while "language" is written with a "g", when they all come from Latin?

The adjective "just" and its noun form "justice" also come from Latin. These are the only words Latin origin I am aware of that are spelled with "j", even though "j&...
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  • 74.7k
1 vote

Correct pronunciation

Just to chime in: I'm from the American south and this is the only way we pronounce Ibuprofen down here that I have heard my entire life-- "i-bee-pro-fen". I've even heard non-regional tv ...
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1 vote

Is the use of 'shew' and 'glew' as the past tense of 'show' and 'glow' commonplace in some areas?

I have a book containing the original plans for HMS Warspite (by Robert Brown). The Admiralty plans/drawings (drawrings?) are from the early 1910’s and often have prominent labels/subtitles (as ...
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  • 11
1 vote

Why is "oh" spelled "oh" and not "o"?

I can't agree that o and oh are the same in meaning. 'Praise the Lord, o my soul' is a vocative command to my soul, 'oh' would be most out of place as it would indicate surprise.
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1 vote

Etymology of "If I had my druthers..."

Earlier examples: I'd druther live in the woods any time, by myself, than on the best plantation in the county; though I've got a family, and a decent one, too. 1833 letter in J. S. Skinner; ...
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  • 17.4k
1 vote

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

This is a much less clear-cut matter than most people seem to think. The spelling favorite was definitely in common use in London in the late 18th century. I have before me a bound volume of music ...
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