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196

Because Nike was the Greek goddess of victory (see Wikipedia) and final 'e's are not silent in Greek. Similarly, the final 'e' should be pronounced in the name Irene, as it is in other Greek-derived names like Chloe, Zoe and Phoebe.


50

English spelling does not have a one-to-one relationship with English pronunciation, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that "Nike" does not rhyme with "bike" and "strike" (except for when it does—apparently, there are some speakers who don't use the "official", disyllabic pronunciation for the brand). "Nike" is from a Greek word-form, unlike "bike" ...


37

Interestingly, this question appeared as number 15 on the Harvard Dialect Survey, so it is possible to give a good summary of the pronunciation differences in these three words as they are spoken in the United States. The 11,422 respondents were asked to choose from five options given the following prompt: How do you pronounce Mary/merry/marry? The ...


27

English doesn't have vowel harmony. "Vowel harmony" refers to situations where there is some process that changes vowels to be in the same class as other vowels in the word, and/or there is a constraint against having vowels of different classes in a word. You can see examples of vowel harmony processes in Turkish on e.g. this web page: Vowel Harmony (some ...


25

If you wish to try to simulate the distinction for people who do not normally make it, I have found that it is best to illustrate it this way: Marry has the same vowel as Matt or mat, so IPA /æ/. Merry has the same vowel as met, so IPA /ɛ/. Mary has the same vowel as mate or may, so IPA /eɪ/ or /e/, depending on just how glide-y you are feeling. Not that ...


24

Note that dictionaries document the (current, at the time of going to press) usage of language, they aren't authoritative. 'Correct' is what is in common usage and largely understood to be correct, even if that contradicts a dictionary (in which case the dictionary is probably out-of-date). So, as RegDwight has already answered, either zeros or zeroes is '...


24

Cameron's excellent answer shows that most people in the US do indeed pronounce these words the same. Although I see that you are a native US English speaker, I'd thought I'd contribute the British English version. In British English, these words typically sound distinctly different. Anecdotally, I think the difference is fairly consistent across the ...


19

It is important to remember that English spelling, traditionally, has no intention of describing pronunciation - its intent is rather to describe etymology (ie word origin). Only incidentally, through the etymology, is the proper pronunciation deduced. That is why Spelling Bees are so entrancing in English, and yet absurd in nearly every other language.


19

Hermes and Ares are reasonable representations in the Latin alphabet of the sounds of the Greek names. The /h/ sound is absent from classical Greek spellings of words which contained it (like Hermes) because the Attic Greek alphabet did not have a distinct character for it—the character ‹H› was used for eta ('long e', contrasting with epsilon, 'short e'...


18

Sh has entries in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, a noun and an interjection. The letters S and H do not constitute a diphthong. Rather, they represent the consonant /ʃ/. Word is difficult to define satisfactorily, but it is determined as much by its syntactical function as by its form and meaning. The definition in ‘The Cambridge Encyclopedia of ...


18

Actually, it's "worse" than that. Nearly all the vowels of English have more than one possible representation in IPA. For example: The vowel sound of the word "kit" can be written as [ɪ] or [i] The vowel sound in "lot" in British English can be written as [ɒ] or [ɔ] The vowel sound in "fleece" can be written as [i], [iː], [ij] or [ɪj] The vowel sound in "...


18

It actually used to be some form of "Walish" that has since been contracted: Welsh Old English Wielisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish); but it actually meant "foreign" or, more properly, "not Anglo-Saxon"; the Welsh called their country something else, and do to this day. In the Welsh language it's not Wales but Cymru. ...


16

Rule: Use a Dictionary Yes, there is a rule, and that rule is that you must look them up in a dictionary if you are not a native speaker. That’s because words beginning with re- in English can, depending on the word, be pronounced with any of eight different vowels: /ra/ /rɑ̃/ /rɒ/ /re/ /rə/ /rɛ/ /ri/ /rɪ/ The last three or four at the end of that list ...


16

Within one language community, the IPA may be simplified for dictionary entries. The /r/ is a classic example. In strict IPA usage, it is the sign for an r sound with a short trill, as in Italian Roma, but English sources routinely use this sign for any standard pronunciation of r. In this recording from the late 1920s of John Gielgud delivering a speech ...


14

(BTW, you really should never just say “the” dictionaries. State your references.) You should use bazaar with two a’s. Most people would read bazar as a spelling mistake. The OED reports that the bizarre bazar spelling was used during the 17th through 19th centuries, but that early in the 19th century (1816) bazaar began to be used instead, and the ...


13

I prefer "zeroes" because "zeros" resembles the Greek singular and seems to invoke the pronunciation ZEH-ross, and I'm not the only one. Oxford explains their pluralization rules including an appearance of zeros, here: Oxford Dictionaries: Plurals of Nouns. In sum: Usually add -s (solos, zeros). If vowel+o, add -s (studios, zoos). Some words take -oes (...


13

Certainly the i in words like bite and fright represents an /aɪ/ diphthong. Phonemically, I come up with these: /aɪ/ as in price, my, high, flight, mice /aʊ/ as in mouth, now, trout /eɪ/ as in face, date, day, they, grey, pain, reign /ɔɪ/ as in choice, boy, hoist /oʊ/ as in goat, toe, tow, soul, rope, cold /juː/ as in cute, few, dew, ewe /jə/ as in onion, ...


13

Unfortunately, there is no good rule - children struggle with this when learning to write. There are a few rules of thumb that hold in most cases, though: Diphthongs (ou, ie, ei, eu, ...) are long (accOUnt), unless they're unstressed and turn into a schwa (succOUr) Single vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are short before double consonants (AttAck) Single vowels are ...


13

Note that Scottish has the contracted form “Scotch” (also “Scots”, where the use of /s/ is I think a Scottish feature). I would guess that the consonant cluster in the middle of “English” inhibited the development of any monosyllabic contracted forms—“Englsh” is not exactly a validly formed syllable in English. Alongside Welsh we have French and Dutch (...


12

The question posed Why is “go” spelled with the same vowel as “do” and “to” since it is pronounced differently? makes an incorrect presupposition. That's the cause of the problem. Deny the presupposition and the problem goes away. That presupposition is that English spelling represents English pronunciation. This is False. The fact is that the ...


12

Voiceless vowels are quite possible, and occur in one way or another in many languages. After all, all vowels and all consonants that are whispered are ipso facto voiceless. Whisper [a] and you have pronounced a voiceless vowel. However, the overwhelming majority of vowel sounds in speech are voiced, since vowel formants are modifications of a voiced ...


11

English vowels have a large amount of variation between accents and individual speakers. Even among speakers who pronounce cot and caught differently, gone and on may be pronounced either way. Gone and on do not belong to any lexical set, but the closest one for me is cloth. So it’s generally pronounced /gɑn/, and that’s the pronunciation I would prefer if ...


11

TL;DR: When it is at the start of a syllable, not when it is at the end of a syllable. First, do not confuse letters with sounds. It is pointless to talk about letters. Semivowels are glides like /w/ and /j/ that act as part of a diphthong, so in conjunction with a vowel sound. In practice, only those semivowels that precede the vowel count as a consonant,...


10

Regarding Oxford Dictionaries, yes it is: embed Pronunciation: /emˈbed/ (also imbed /im-/)


10

The letter e in English commonly makes two different sounds: The "long" e is [i] in IPA, and is found in words such as keep, bean, read, and compete. It's generally spelled with a digraph such as ee, ea, or eo, or is indicated by a final silent e in the word. The "short" e is [ɛ] in IPA, and is found in words such as bet and left. It's generally spelled ...


10

I wasn’t aware of the floatation spelling, or that it was found in American English. The OED has only flotation, but with this note: The spelling flotation is not etymologically justifiable, but is more common in use, probably because it disguises the hybrid formation, so that the word appears more conformable to the general analogy of scientific terms.


10

According to Wikipedia, The name "Nevada" comes from the Spanish Nevada [neˈβaða], meaning "snow-covered", after the Sierra Nevada ("snow-covered mountains") mountain range. Nevadans normally pronounce the second syllable of their state name using the /æ/ vowel of "bad". Many from outside the Western United States pronounce it with the /ɑː/ vowel of "...


10

First, it's "shwa". It's a Hebrew word, not a German one, so there's no reason for SCH. Second, it's both a phone [ə] in IPA, and a phoneme /ə/ in English. As a phone, it's got the sound of the final vowel in German Danke, of the first vowel in French Le Mans, or the first vowel in English the man. There is no shwa in Spanish or Italian. Third, as a ...


10

You are correct, English speakers generally pronounce the with a long E (ði) before vowels and with a schwa (ðə) before consonants, just as we say an before vowels and a before consonants. However, the rule follows pronunciation rather than spelling. While words like one and unicorn are spelled with initial vowels, the actual sounds are consonants (...


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