This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.
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Can anyone tell me why the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian is pronounced differently?
I’m English/British and I and from England/Britain.
Surely it should either be Can-a-da & Can-a-dian or Can-ay-da & Can-ay-dian...
My guess is it has something to do with the French influence, but I would love to know for sure.
Here in the UK our language has been heavily influenced over the years, including by the French and it has always interested where these things start or change.
I was in empty space in an elevator one day when it occurred to me that it’s actually “pains-taking”, the taking of pains to do something thoroughly. I’d never thought about it before.
But it’s too hard to pronounce “painz-taking”, because the “z” sound must be voiced; whereas the unvoiced “s” combines easily with the “t” to make “-staking”, so that’s what we say. That’s my theory, but BrE might be different. Is it?
Why does the Western media have so many different spellings for some Arabic terms?
1. hezbollah hesbollah hizbullah hizbollah hisbollah
2. ayatollah ayatullah
I’m having a custom item made to indicate when our home was established. The year will be the year my husband and I were married and started our family. My issue is I’m not sure how our name should appear. Here is the text.
The (LAST NAME)
Our last name is Myers. Please help! I’m not sure if it should be possessive (ownership of the home/family) or plural (for the people).
At the clinic I was directed to the “subwait area” and left to ponder my fate. I did wonder whether this should be sub-wait and how fully portable “sub” has become as a preposition and/or prefix, when attached to a Germanic-rooted word. What other words are there where “sub” is used as an English word, apart from phrases like “sub judice” and “sub” as a short form of “substitute” eg in sport “he was subbed off”?
Can you please comment on a trend that I have noticed recently. More and more people seem to be pronouncing words that contain the letters “str” as if they were written “shtr”. Strong sounds like shtrong, strange sounds like shtrange, and so on. I have noticed even my favorite NPR journalists mispronouncing these words. I first noticed this pronunciation in one of Michelle Obama’s early speeches. I’d appreciate any insight that you might have.
I have always believed, probably in common with most Scots, that the pronunciation of “gill” varies depending on whether one is referring to the organ of respiration in fishes and other water-breathing animals ( /ɡɪl/ ), or a measure of liquid (/dʒɪl/ ), or even one of the many other variations of the word. I was therefore somewhat surprised recently when watching an episode of QI to hear the erstwhile Stephen Fry and his guests use /ɡɪl/ for both the fishy organ and the liquid measure..
Does anyone know if there are rules governing the pronunciation of “a”? It’s either “AYE” or “UH”, depending on the word following. My preference is dictated by how it sounds and how it flows off the tongue, but I have never been able to establish if actual rules exist.
Americans and Australians tend to use “AYE” all the time and sometime it just sounds ridiculous, like...”Aye man driving aye car stopped at aye traffic light”
They pronounce words such as success, luck, but et al with a closed “ooh”: “sook-cess”, “look”, “boot”