By J.C. Wells, Lhinton Davidson
How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound a similar? the place does the strain move in stalagmite? what is strange in regards to the note epergne? Pontcysyllte is clearly Welsh, yet Penge is Welsh too! How cool is Caol within the Highlands of Scotland? What can Wesley's hymns let us know approximately sound switch in English? How do humans pronounce Wrocław in Poland? How can someone be ready to say Gdynia as simply syllables? Why is the village of Frith within the island of Montserrat frequently mentioned as though spelt Frits? What embarrassing pretend pas in English did a Russian conglomerate make? may still I bild a cubbard rather than construction a cabinet? How may still we capitalize an exclamation mark, and why could we have to? what is a depressor consonant? As a finale, the writer writes a letter to his 16-year-old self. Read more...
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Additional resources for Sounds fascinating: further observations on English phonetics and phonology
Another interesting formation, and forty years older, is Monrovia, capital of Liberia, named in 1824 after the American President James Monroe. Unlike with Harrow, there is no letter w here to provoke a Latinizing letter v. Shavian ˈʃeɪviən, for the writer George Bernard Shaw, is more recent (OED 1905). And Fitzrovia, for the area around Fitzroy Square near Euston, is a mere half-century old (OED 1958). Fans of Doctor Who are sometimes referred to as Whovians. During the 1980s, the Doctor Who Fan Club of America published the Whovian Times as its newsletter.
In AmE it seems usually to be ˈdaɪpɚ, to rhyme with wiper, though Webster’s Collegiate adds ˈdaɪəpɚ as an ‘also’ pronunciation. Since this word is not used in modern BrE (though it is found in Shakespeare), it is difﬁcult to say whether there is any established BrE pronunciation of it. Other candidates? As far as I know, no one says *ˈdaɪdem for diadem or * ˈdaɪgræm for diagram. Words where the aɪ(ə) is followed by a liquid, such as diary, are a special case, since schwa frequently comes and goes in that environment.
However, while knowledge of these rules is certainly useful for the author of a pronunciation dictionary, I can see the force of the argument that not everyone needs to know them. Knowledge is a tricky thing. I spent my working life in a university environment where people generally felt an obligation to know the correct pronunciation not only of classical names but also of anything from French, German, Italian, or Spanish. This doesn’t necessarily apply elsewhere. On the tube I overheard a couple discussing buying a new washing machine.