General Question

Ajoiner's avatar

Why is the word epoch pronounced "epic" in American English?

Asked by Ajoiner (161points) May 22nd, 2013

But is pronounced “EE-POKh” in British English? I’m American and am having a disagreement with this because it seems needlessly confusing with the word “epic” and just seems to not make any sense.

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31 Answers

rojo's avatar

Laziness is my guess.

dxs's avatar

Because Americans have the weirdest pronunciation of things. We tend to butcher most words.

glacial's avatar

I’m a Canadian, so I’m not sure my input counts, but I pronounce the last syllable of “epic” as if it has a short “i”, and the last syllable of “epoch” as if it has a schwa, or almost as if it had a short “u”. So they’re not quite the same to me.

I still find it funny to hear the Brits pronounce that long first syllable, though. ;)

Plucky's avatar

I’m Canadian and I pronounce the two differently. I’ve never heard epoch spoken the same as epic.

johnpowell's avatar

I have lived in Oregon most of my life and pronounce it EE-POKh. I don’t think I have ever heard it pronounced any other way.

zenvelo's avatar

It isn’t, it’s pronounced like “E-pock”. Most Americans don’t even know that word.

We say epic as a slang adjective meaning huge or unbelievable, not at all accurately. Something like, “that dive off that cliff into the lake was epic”. But the only times I’ve seen or even heard “epoch” in a long time is on Fluther.

Pachy's avatar

I think maybe people didn’t like saying e-posch.

rooeytoo's avatar

Most Americans I know pronounce it e-pock and know exactly what it means.

Sunny2's avatar

Do they have the same meaning? Epoch is a period of years, a noun. Epic is large in a more general way and used as an adjective more than a noun. A movie may be an epic, but I can’t think of another use of it as a noun. Of course, this is off the top of my head and I’m not interested enough to do the research.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

It isn’t. American English is not a single thing. There are many dialects of English, and some American dialects have more in common with those of other countries than they do with those of other American dialects. I’m not aware of any dialect in which that pronunciation in the standard, but then I’m no philologist nor expert in all the various forms, dialects and accents of English.
Where are you hearing it?

tinyfaery's avatar

I am American and use the long e when saying epoch.

Generalizations typically fail.

filmfann's avatar

In California, we say E-pock.

We also say Row Day Oh.

tinyfaery's avatar

I always say Rodeo like a rodeo. Some people get really irritated by it. Haha. Snobs.

gailcalled's avatar

Not in my America. I treat them as two words with unrelated pronunciation and meaning.
(Just as I don’t confuse miasma and melisma, entomology and etymology, or analogy and analog.)


ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you. That is exactly what I was going to say. A question of epic proportions. It took an epoch before somebody asked it.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ Or epoch vs.epoxy.

DaphneT's avatar

They are not.

Ajoiner's avatar

@glacial Yes, “eh-pukh” is how I generally hear it pronounced and I live in Florida. Slightly different than “eh-pikh” but still close. It would indeed seem like it is a regional issue, with two American Westerners using the long E.

@gailcalled and @ETpro Yes, thank you. I was not having any issues with the definitions or distinguishing the differences between the two words though. It was more of a phonetic complaint… Also none of the examples of confusion you gave were of the same caliber. They all sound similar but all are still far from being as close as “eh-pikh” and “eh-pukh.” I did, however, enjoy the inapplicable condescension.

@DaphneT Yes, actually in some parts this is the standard pronunciation…. hence my question.

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keobooks's avatar

I have lived in Indiana, Kentucky, California and Florida. I’ve only heard it pronounced EE-pock.

zenvelo's avatar

So @Ajoiner do you agree you have not heard how Americans pronounce epoch?

keobooks's avatar

I once heard an actor from the UK who did a pretty good American accent—until her pronounced the word decade. He said Deck-HODD. And here, we say DECK-aid. I have often wondered if that is the British way of saying it, or if its the way this guy thought we say it.

I’m wondering if epoch goes the same way.

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Ajoiner's avatar

@zenvelo No. Why would I? What I would say is that you haven’t heard it pronounced both ways and simply don’t have an appropriate answer to my question so you doodled something instead.

Ajoiner's avatar also pronounces it this way as “American.”

ETpro's avatar

@Ajoiner Put in epic and listen to the difference. But yeah, Americans don’t put as much emphasis on the e. I think the British pronunciation is closer to correct. The English are kind of the authorities on how to speak English—although some people native to the British Isle do speak in a strange way.

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Ajoiner's avatar

1605–15; < Neo-Latin epocha < Greek epochḗ pause, check, fixed time, equivalent to ep- ep- + och- (variant stem of échein to have) + -ē noun suffix

Related forms
sub·ep·och, noun
su·per·ep·och, noun

Can be confused: epic, epoch.”

@zenvelo Oh my gosh! It would appear the long E is acquired and your answers are all wrong… Sorry!

@ETpro I can barely find it pronounced online with a long E. And when otherwise, the only difference between epic and epoch is tooth “pick” Vs. hockey “puck.” It is not originally a British word, they simply adopted it from a more advanced civilization.

ETpro's avatar

@Ajoiner Your ears need a tune-up. The E’s are different for the two, though not very different in the American English.

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