Feb 14, 2020

How do You Pronounce That

English is a delicious language that is sometimes confusing in spelling and grammar terms, but also in pronunciation.

Tour Depending on who you ask, you could either embark on a "tore" of a city, or you could embark on a "toor" of a city. Both Merriam-Webster and the Macmillan Dictionary advise you to pronounce it as "toor," but that is not to say that "tore" is wrong.

Lawyer The researchers behind the Harvard Dialect Survey discovered that while most Americans pronounce the word "lawyer" in such a way that the first syllable rhymes with "boy," Southerners emphasize the "law" in lawyer so the first syllable makes a "saw" sound.

Marry/Merry/Mary If you were to say the sentence "I feel merry about marrying Mary," would your pronunciations of "marry," "merry," and "Mary" sound different? Most Americans will find that these words come out to sound exactly the same, but if you are from a big city in the Northeast, then it is probable that the way you sound out each word differs, with "marry" taking on the same vowel as "cat," "merry" taking on the same vowel as "pet," and "Mary" taking on the same vowel as "fair."

Caught/Cot Do you hear a difference in pronunciation between the words "cot" and "caught"? If so, you probably did not grow up on the West Coast or in the Midwest. In the Harvard Dialect Survey, researchers found that the majority of people from these regions pronounced these words in the same way. People on the East Coast and in the South, meanwhile, tend to pronounce them distinctly differently.

Envelope Most people pronounce the first syllable in the word "envelope" like "pen," but some people pronounce the first syllable like "on." That is because the English word originates from the French word for envelope, which favors 'on'.

Aunt Some people, especially Southerners, see the word "aunt" and pronounce it no differently than the word's homonym, 'ant'. Others, particularly those in the Boston area, pronounce the word so that it rhymes with 'daunt'.

Almond The various pronunciations of the word "almond" originate back to when many people were emigrating from Europe to the United States, bringing with them their native languages and thusly their own versions of various words. So, call it an al-mond, an am-end, or an ahl-mend.

Salmon Given how many Americans are not native English speakers, it is no surprise that so many are saying the word "salmon" with a distinguishable 'l' sound. In languages like Spanish and Italian, the 'l' in salmon is very much heard, and that often carries over into pronunciations for people who are learning English as a second language. There is only one correct pronunciation, and it involves no 'l' sound.

Pecan Whether you pronounce the word "pecan" as pee-can, or puh-kahn is complicated. When the National Pecan Shellers Association polled Americans about how they pronounced the name of the nut, they found that there were divides not just among regions, but within them as well. A Washington Post survey concluded that there was no single pronunciation of the word designated for each area, with 45 percent of Southerners and 70 percent of Northeasterners favoring "pee-can."

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