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  1. #1
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    Question Pronunciation problem.

    Since a few days a pronuncitation problem has been bugging me. I'd like to know how to pronunce words that are ending with 'or'. Do you read the end of the word as 'or' or as 'er' like in aft(er)?

    For example:
    Do you read...
    doctor as doct(or) or doct(er)?
    inspector as inspect(or) or inspect(er)?
    error as err(or) or err(er)?
    mirror as mirr(or) or mirr(er)?
    sponsor as spons(or) or spons(er)?
    mayor as may(or) or may(er)?
    monitor as monit(or) or monit(er)?
    color as col(or) or col(er)?

    When I type these words into any of the online dictionaries, I'll always get a pronuncitation symbol of an unstressed [er] at the end. This really confusses me. Oh one more thing, this question is oriented to U.S/Canada people or to everyone else who knows how to pronunce these words in American/Canadian. Please answer as accurately as possialbe as it is very important. I thank in advance for your input!

  2. #2
    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    The <-or> & <-er> endings of those words as listed are mostly pronounced either as a schwa /ə/ + /r/ or as a rhoticized (r-colored) schwa /d/ called a right-hook schwa.

  3. #3
    hiho is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    Well, thanks for your help but I just don't understand what you said. So basically, everytime I see a word that ends with /or/, I'll pronunce it as /er/ (Just like in the word aft/er/)? In other words, instead of reading 'o' I will read it as 'e', is that right?

  4. #4
    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    The short answer is “no”. Remember, hiho, there’ll always be exceptions to any phonic generalizations. You don’t pronounce /er/ each time you see a word that ends with /or/. The following words come to my mind: guarantor, matador, for, floor & metaphor. Except perhaps for the last word which could be uttered both ways, the <o> in each of the above words is pronounced as an open “o” (IPA symbol), cardinal vowel #6, as you would in “all” & “door”.

  5. #5
    hiho is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    Man you are a blessing. One more thing I'd like to ask you. Could you please look at my initial post and tell me which of the words are pronunced with an 'e' or 'o' at the end. Esspecially when it comes to words such as mirror or error. Is it 'e' or 'o'? Generally speaking, are words that end with 'or' pronunced more as an /or/ or /er/. Ah and if you don't mind, could you tell me how to correctly pronunce words that end with /al/ (ie. potential, federal, provincial, collateral, etc.) Is it pronunced as ol like the word 'all'?

    Thanks man!!

  6. #6
    colloquium is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    Error: [er-er] /ˈɛrər/

    Mirror: [mir-er] /ˈmɪrər/

    Hiho, I took these phonetic spellings directly from Dictionary.com.

    They also have an audio function which allows you to hear the word.

    What more could you ask for!
    Last edited by colloquium; 30-Jul-2008 at 21:29.

  7. #7
    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    The last syllables in all the words in your initial post are pronounced as “er”. As Colloquium rightly pointed out, mirror” & “error” are no exception. Just remember some will argue that some of those words could be pronounced one way or the other. It depends very much on where you are and the kind of English dialect you speak.

    I pronounce “-tial” in “potential” & “-cial” in “provincial” as /cl/ (in IPA symbols) as most English speakers would. The 1st symbol is the fricative // (called “ash”). It is the normal “sh” sound as in “she”. The 2nd symbol of course is the schwa. The last one is the approximant “l” (small letter “el”).

    The “-al” in “federal” & “collateral” is uttered /cl/. You may omit the /c/ if the following /l/ becomes syllabic.

    So you see the “al” in the 4 words you listed doesn’t pronounced “ol” (as in “all”) at all.

  8. #8
    hiho is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Pronunciation problem.

    I guess I am a pain in the ass for you but I will ask you one more thing. What exactly do you mean with "The 2nd symbol of course is the schwa"? (How's the 2nd symbol pronunced?) So the end of potential will be read as sh-o-l? Also, I sometimes hear people skipping the 'a' sound, something like potenti'l. I have the feeling that the pronunciation symbols of some dictionaries are inaccurate. Let's take potential as an example. The pronunciation symbols of the word are pə ténshəl. I am 100% sure that the 2nd letter (ə) of p(o)tential is pronunced more like an 'o'. But the word about, however, starts with the same symbol (ə) but is pronunced as 'uh'. Why is it so? I am sooo confused about all this.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by hiho; 01-Aug-2008 at 18:40.

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