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  1. #1
    ravish28 is offline Newbie
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    Default Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Dear friends,

    One of my friend asked me a about pronunciation of the words - Servant & Surgeon. He asked if both the words have different spelling then why do we pronounce them in a similar way.

    Let me be more clear.

    • surgeon
    [sur-juhn]
    • servant
    [sur-vuhnt]

    The first words starts with "sur" in surgeon and the second word start with "ser" in servant. So, where there is a difference in their spelling, then why there is no difference in their initial pronunciation.

    Please suggest!

    Regards,

    Ravish

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Are you new to the English language?

    It has many features, but a consistent one-to-one mapping between letters of the alphabet and sounds is not one of them.

  3. #3
    Asdherel is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Hi,
    I'd say it's because of the <r> at the end of the syllable. <r> in final position in a syllable changes the quality of the preceding vowel.
    This is true for BrE; I'm not sure about AmE but I guess it's the same.
    I hope that helps

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Quote Originally Posted by Asdherel View Post
    Hi,
    I'd say it's because of the <r> at the end of the syllable. <r> in final position in a syllable changes the quality of the preceding vowel.
    This is true for BrE; I'm not sure about AmE but I guess it's the same.
    I hope that helps
    I doubt the 'r' has anything to do with the issue the OP is raising. 'Sir' as in 'sirloin' is also sur (OP's notation), but 'sar' is sar and 'sor' is sor.
    You seem to be making an ad hoc guess.

  5. #5
    Asdherel is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I doubt the 'r' has anything to do with the issue the OP is raising. 'Sir' as in 'sirloin' is also sur (OP's notation), but 'sar' is sar and 'sor' is sor.
    You seem to be making an ad hoc guess.
    What I wrote in my previous post is what I've learnt at university. I upload a picture taken from my textbook (I insist this is for RP).

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Influence of R.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	48.0 KB 
ID:	1580

    As you can see in the picture, the <r> actually changes the quality of the vowel (in that specific context). In my previous post I didn't mention what the result of the change was: it was a coincidence that "surgeon" and "servant" has the same vowel in the first syllable.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Influence of R.jpg  

  6. #6
    Carolina1983 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Hello!
    They´re not pronounced in the same way:
    ˈsɜːrvənt
    ˈsɜːrdʒən

    :)

  7. #7
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Quote Originally Posted by Carolina1983 View Post
    Hello!
    They´re not pronounced in the same way:
    ˈsɜːrvənt
    ˈsɜːrdʒən

    :)
    The phonetic symbols in your two renditions appear to be identical for corresponding vowels in each word. Anyway, in Canada, where I live they are pronounced the same way, but this is something that may vary from region to region.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Quote Originally Posted by Carolina1983 View Post
    Hello!
    They´re not pronounced in the same way:
    ˈsɜːrvənt
    ˈsɜːrdʒən

    :)
    The person is asking about the first syllable.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Quote Originally Posted by ravish28 View Post
    The first words starts with "sur" in surgeon and the second word start with "ser" in servant. So, where there is a difference in their spelling, then why there is no difference in their initial pronunciation.
    You can have many different spellings of a single sound. Unfortunately, English spelling isn't always consistent with pronunciation.

  10. #10
    PronCoach is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of the words Servant & Surgeon

    Unlike most languages, English does not have consistent rules when it comes to spelling and sound. There are several ways to spell one sound.
    For example, the bolded and underlined parts of bead, need, happy, key, unique, evening, believe, receive, phoenix, quay, people all represent one sound /i:/ except for happy as it is a lax vowel /i/.

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