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Dutchess_III's avatar

If the Brits pronounce a word one way, and Americans pronounce the same word differently, who's right?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46938points) 1 month ago

As asked.

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17 Answers

janbb's avatar

Obviously, there is no right or wrong in this situation. In Britain, it is pronounced one way and that is right for there and in America, it is pronounced the way it is done here. It’s kind of fun to observe the differences. And different sections of each country, might pronounce words differently.

ragingloli's avatar

The Brits, obviously.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Use the American dictionary in America and British dictionary in the UK !

hat's avatar

@Dutchess_III: “who’s right?”

everyone

Tropical_Willie's avatar

As an aside the Brits spell funny ! !

—I mean colour! !—

Kropotkin's avatar

British English has an almost infinite variety of pronunciations. What Americans might think of British English is Standard Southern British or Received Pronunciation, which isn’t how most Brits speak anyway.

Even in American English there are variations.

Some words in some British accents will be closer to some American pronunciations than other British pronunciations.

However, my main gripe with American English is that about none of you can correctly pronounce foreign worlds and names. For example, “croissant” is not and never will be a “cruh-sahnt”. You also utterly butcher foreign surnames, and for a country predominantly made up of many non-English European migrants, it really baffles me why this is the case.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Only word I can think of is Migraine, the BRits say megraine, over here we say mie graine.
The brits call a cookie a biscuit, over here a biscuit is a whole different thing.

gondwanalon's avatar

It doesn’t matter as long as you can understand what is being said.

hat's avatar

@Kropotkin: “You also utterly butcher foreign surnames, and for a country predominantly made up of many non-English European migrants, it really baffles me why this is the case.”

I suspect it’s difficult for Europeans to understand this. But if the US states were countries instead, with distinct surnames and languages and pronunciations, there might be more “authentic” pronunciation.

Additionally, there seems to be little respect for “authentic” pronunciations of surnames. When I was in Quebec, I used the French pronunciation of my French surname. But back in Massachusetts, I use the butchered version that my family has used for generations. People don’t care that much.

Also, there are those that have intentionally changed the pronunciation of certain names in order to blend in. And it might have its roots in prejudice related to immigration waves throughout US history. Hell, many people arrived and were given surnames or changed them intentionally. My great grandfather arrived alone (as a teenager) from Greece. When he arrived, they couldn’t understand what he was saying when he tried to spell his last name. So they told him what his last name would be. They gave him an Irish sounding name, and that was his legal name.

Anyway, I really don’t care how people pronounce their own names, and I will try to use their pronounciation.

hat's avatar

As an aside, I just attended two graduations – my daughter from college and my son from high school. Both of them used a phonetic spelling recording on a dedicated website to inform the people reading the names. In both cases, they were still pronounced completely different than they asked for – and different than I had ever heard. We all expected it, and didn’t really mind.

Kropotkin's avatar

@hat Brits do it too to a large extent, in fact many different language speakers seem to mispronounce surnames of other languages. Americans just seem to be one of the worse offenders, despite being one of the most ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan nations.

Maybe it’s because I’m bilingual that I notice it more, but it just seems so lazy and ignorant when people don’t even try. There’s some fairly obvious pronunciation rules that should be apparent to anyone remotely curious.

hat's avatar

@Kropotkin: “Americans just seem to be one of the worse offenders, despite being one of the most ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan nations.”

Again, I think proximity to others who may pronounce names “authentically” might help. Europeans have the luxury of having distinct countries the size of US states. And yes, Americans do have a knack for taking distinct cultures and melting them down into a slurry that doesn’t appeal to anyone. While the “melting pot” idea was a bit of a myth, there really does seem to be something to be said about a place made up of diverse immigrants who eventually lose their culture and identity. We often have to travel to the places our colonizer ancesters came from in order to get a taste for the culture – and how our names might have been pronounced a long time ago.

Forever_Free's avatar

Both.

Pronunciation can be different between areas of the US.
Aunt can sound like ANT in the Midwest
Roof can be like a dog sound of Ruff
Even the name Donna is different in parts of the US

JLeslie's avatar

I would say both are correct most of the time.

Probably, I would argue some words are pronounced incorrectly, but having nothing to do with British or American pronunciation, but rather pronunciation that makes no sense.

Like take a woman I used to do zumba with, she pronounces pen, pin. To make it worse, her name is Jenny, and she says it Jenny, but she can’t say pen. Jen pen, nope, she can’t do it. It doesn’t make sense.

My husband has trouble saying sill, but English is his second language, so it is cute, he would never try to say his pronunciation is correct. He does say bill correctly though, so it makes no sense either. Maybe it is the s. S can be difficult as the first letter for Spanish speakers, but usually he doesn’t have a problem with that.

The Brits were before the Americans, so I would say the Brits probably can say they are correct, but then even within England the different social classes and regions will have different dialects and accents. I love a British accent, but I still find tomato pronounced their way very odd.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is an example:
Glacier.
David Attenboro says “Glass-ce ere.”
We say “Glay sure.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is an example:
Glacier.
David Attenboro says “Glass-see ere.”
We say “Glay sure.”

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