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Daily Archives: March 14, 2012

Syllables

 

3 not 2

 

"family" is a 3-syllable word, not 2

"company" is a 3-syllable word

"different" is a 3-syllable word

"difference" is a 3-syllable word

"favorite" is a 3-syllable word

"theater" is a 3-syllable word

"memory" is a 3-syllable word

"insurance" is a 3-syllable word

"medicine" is a 3-syllable word

 

Mispronunciation of these nine words always grates on my nerves…makes the hair on my neck stand out.

 

It's common suburban-mother-speak to extoll the virtues of "faamlee" in a whiney, shrill voice. Likewise the less-common "comp'ny" when talking about businesses. And to hear someone say "differnt" or "fave-ert" or "fave-rit" or "theeter" or "memry" is appalling. To hear Texans say "INshernce" is probably not surprising, however quirky. But hearing the Brits (gold standard English-speakers) pronounce "medcine" is very troubling. The Brits also ADD a syllable to words like "aluminum" when they say "aluMINium" while it's not even spelled that way; and SUBTRACT a syllable when they pronounce "secretary" as "secretree".

 

They are all 3-syllable or 4-syllable words; let's do our best to articulate…hear the syllables in proper pronunciation. "What is a syllable?" you ask. Dictionary definition below for your convenience; even though it doesn't help my understanding — and probably doesn't do much for yours, either!

 

syllable: 

a unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants, forming the whole or a part of a word; e.g., there are two syllables in water and three in inferno.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized