I would like to know if there is any specific rule about the pronounciation of "y", when we should read it as /i/ and when we should read it as /ai/.
_ Pronounced i in most words of two or more syllables (healthy, easy).
_ Pronounced ai in one syllable word (my, try), words where the stress is on the last syllable (reply, deny), and words ending in -ify (clarify, terrify).
Y in the middle of a word
_ Pronounced i when it is between consonants (symtom, physics).
_ Pronounced ai when the y is followed by a consonant + e (tyre) or with words (of Greek origin) beginning psy- or hyp- (psychiatrist).
hypnotist and hypocrite are exceptions pronounced i .
Last edited by mara_ce; 14-Sep-2009 at 16:00.
Good rule and additions
I'd just add that 'hypocrite' has a final E - which makes both vowels irregular. It's as if the irregularity has run amok and not been 'turned off' after shortening the first vowel! So both are shortened.
Examples of words without this shortening are 'hypothesis' and 'hyper-sensitive'.
A further example of a word with shortening: 'hysteria'.