General Question

juniper's avatar

Do you pronounce the word "human" as though it were spelled "yuman?"?

Asked by juniper (1899points) August 19th, 2009

I’ve only heard a few people do this, and most of them were involved in academica—a few of my literature professors and some graduate students who seemed to be copying said professors.

My hasty research has indicated that this is a British thing, but I’m more interested in why people say this than in the origin of the pronunciation.

Did you adopt the “y” sound? Did someone teach you? Is it a conscious effort every time? Why do you pronounce “human” this way?

Just curious.

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31 Answers

HeNkiSdaBro's avatar

I use the “y” sound yes. Is it really meant to be pronounced the way it is spelled!? I didn’t even know people used the “h” to begin with!

Vincentt's avatar

How else would you pronounce it? Wiktionary says it’s like that, and its audio representation sounds just like I say it.

juniper's avatar

@Vincentt, I pronounce it with an /h/, just because that’s what I’ve always heard. This dictionary says it’s pronounced both ways, but the audio sample is with /h/.

juniper's avatar

Also, check the pronunciation note at the bottom of the page—you can hear it pronounced the other way, there.

Quagmire's avatar

Interesting question. Truth be told, sometimes I pronounce it one way, while other times I pronounce it the other way.

marinelife's avatar

I always pronounce it with an h.

MrItty's avatar


The h is not silent. The u makes a yoo sound.

Quagmire's avatar

Don’t know. I never realized it until I listened to your audio links and realized I say it both ways.

tedibear's avatar

I use the “h” sound because, in my head, it sounds wrong without it. I also get irritated when I hear the word “huge” pronounced as “yoo-ge.” It sounds very odd to me.

f4a's avatar

I pronounce it with the Y sound. how do you pronounce it with H sound? when I pronounce it with H sound I have a ‘shh’ sound, like air is coming out my mouth. I dont know if I sound it right if H sound.

gailcalled's avatar

Put your hand in front of your mouth and say “hyuman,” You will feel the puff of breath on your skin. That tells you you’re pronouncing it right. Then try say “usually.” No exhalation.

f4a's avatar

yeah when I pronounce it that way (H sound), I sort of lose breath. may be thats why I’ve always pronounce it with Y sound.

sandystrachan's avatar

I pronounce it -supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – how else am i ment to pronounce hue man i say hue min

gailcalled's avatar

@sandystrachan (—And I say “meant,” which is indeed pronounced ment.)

sandystrachan's avatar

@gailcalled i say mint instead of ment or meant , its our way of saying it . And min also is a person as in oi min fit yi dein ayr . Hey you what are you doing there .

quasi's avatar

i almost never enunciate the “h” sound in human, or hugh. to me the difference is so subtle that i don’t notice it, but it drives my girlfriend nuts.

but @juniper i’m involved in academia, so i guess that’s what it is (although i’ve said it that way since i was kid)

Strauss's avatar

I pronounce it ”hyoo-man”, with the proper puff of breath (thank you @gailcalled). Interesting, I was thinking about the letter “H” in the English language the other day. It’s interesting that it is pronounced in some cases, and silent in others, and the pattern is reversed in certain dialects of English, especially I’ve noticed in Cockney and certain Irish dialects.

Supacase's avatar

I pronounce the h. In fact, though I am admittedly wrong to do this, I roll my eyes whenever I hear “yooman” and stereotype the person as being pretentious.

@fish4answers it is just like saying “humid” or “history” or “hurry” or “hello.” It is the same h sound.

The only h that I can think of that I don’t pronounce is in “herb” and that is only if I am talking about the word in the sense of “herbs and spices,” not a person named Herb.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i say it Ferengi-style “HYU-man”.

Buttonstc's avatar


I thought the Ferengis said it more like HYU-mon and kind of dragging out the o quite a bit
If I remember correctly.

To answer the original question, I always use the h sound and can’t recall having heard it any other way.

nebule's avatar

I’m a Brit and I say HUUUUman :-)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Buttonstc i’ve got a western ferengi accent.~

sandystrachan's avatar

I thought it was an American thing rather British , am Scottish and have never heard it your way .

Vincentt's avatar

@juniper That’s very interesting, I barely hear the difference (I first thought it was the same audio sample twice), and can’t really tell which one I’m using. Undoubtedly this is due to my not being a native speaker. I really need to learn proper pronunciation some time.

Rsam's avatar

Me: I kinda do a mildly yiddish back of the mouth H. Similar to what you might pronounce with Hubert (the name). regardless. as with most words, a “correct” pronunciation is silly for the most part. For all the frenzied and authoratative sounding Dictionary checking, we should remember those repositories are not stand alone authorities. They’re representaions of how language is most often used, not the “correct” version.

Adagio's avatar

I have only ever said human, pronouncing the h…. perhaps there is a correlation with the pronunciation of herbs, some people pronounce it without the h… that has always sounded mighty peculiar to me.

75movies's avatar

I pronounce the H. But do not use my pronunciation as a determination for what is correct. I also pronounce the H is herb due to a long standing agreement with my fiance who happens to be English.

The agreement is as follows:
I agree to pronounce the h in herb just as in English person would if she will include the American phrase “douche bag” into her everyday vernacular.

It has been over three years since this agreement took place and I don’t even think about the H anymore, it just comes out. And the same goes for her and “douche bag”, which from time to time she now calls me.

mariedot's avatar

My student pulls me up for saying it
with y- way i was brought up I suppose. I’m Australian.

Moonraker's avatar

If you say yooman, should you also say yoomanity? I think this shows that it is incorrect to say yooman.

melmay's avatar

I’ve been taking a Facebook poll. My husband from Queens and mother from Arizona both say/said “yuman.” I pronounce the H. My unscientific survey (which includes New Yorkers and Arizonans) indicates that I’m in the majority.

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