Tag Archives: General American English (GenAm)

“Button” vs. “Butter”

Apropos of a recent conversation in the comments, it’s worth noting that Americans generally pronounce /t/ in words like “button” and “Manhattan” in a different manner than one might expect. To take one contrasting example, Americans pronounce the word “butter” … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 32 Comments

NBC Pronunciation Standards

While browsing in a book shop recently, I found a dusty manual titled NBC Handbook of Pronunciation. From the 1940′s through the early 1960′s, NBC published this dictionary of sorts establishing a “standard pronunciation” for newscasters. It is clear from the … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 49 Comments

Singing in Dialect, Part 2: When Brits Go GenAm

Like many young urbanites in the 2000s, I was obsessed with Joy Division. I’m not sure why this two-decades defunct* band from Manchester touched a nerve, but touch a nerve it did. Yet I always found it perplexing the way … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Pronunciation Mysteries: ‘Cinema’ and ‘Theatre’

Today’s post can be filed in the ‘questions I don’t have answers to’ box.  Two words, closely related by subject, exhibit unusual variation in dialects of English. Both, incidentally, involve going to the movies: 1.) Theatre (or theater).* In General American English … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 51 Comments

The Goose Room and the Foot Room

Some differences in pronunciation cross traditional dialect boundaries. One such curio is the word ‘room,’ which has two common variants: one with the vowel in ‘goose,’ and the other with the ‘lax’ vowel in ‘foot.’ I use the vowel in … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Stating the Obvious About Standard English

Like many language enthusiasts, I was dismayed by two recent New Yorker pieces implicitly criticizing the field of modern linguistics. The first was a negative review of Henry Hitching’s The Language Wars: A History of Proper English, the second a … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

On Dictionaries & Pronunciation

The fine folks over at Collins contacted me recently about their online dictionary. It’s in beta, but looks to be an excellent addition to a growing body of online word tools. I recommend checking it out here. Anyway, this got … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 41 Comments

I’m Hoarably Sorey

Canadians (or those familiar with the Canadian accent), may recognize the weak pun in today’s title: ‘I’m horribly sorry‘ can sound to someone from the UK or elsewhere a bit like ‘I’m hoarably sorey.’ (I’m using ‘hoar’ to be family friendly; … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

American Ash

It’s time for us to talk about ash. ‘Ash’ refers not to the product of burnt charcoal, but rather the ‘short-a’ vowel symbolized by æ in the International Phonetic Alphabet.  In both the British Received Pronunciation and General American dialects of English, this … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

A Pronunciation Mystery: American ‘Father’

Sometimes the most common words have the most illogical pronunciations. Such is the case with the American pronunciation of ‘father.’ It seems so self-evident this word is pronounced with a broad a (i.e. an ‘ah’ sound) that this fact barely … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 77 Comments