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  1. #1
    clave2843 is offline Newbie
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    The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    Is there any logical explanation behind the change in pronunciation of compound words such as breakfast?

    Why is it not correct to just join the pronunciations of the two original words? I mean, a reason beyond "because everyone says it that way"

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    According to this site, "break" was originally pronounced "breck", not "brake" so actually "breckfast" does retain the pronunciation of the original words.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    But surely, ems, you've only shown that 'break' retains the original pronunciation; unless you are asserting also that 'fast' was pronounced 'f'st'.

    PS: In any case, there are other words in which the original pronunciation changes:
    handkerchief /ˈhæŋkərtʃɪf/, for example, loses the 'd' from 'hand'.

  4. #4
    clave2843 is offline Newbie
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    Re: The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    Although the source could be more reputable, the explanation was just what I was looking for. I suppose that a similar explanation could be argued for other cases.

    Thank you!

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    Quote Originally Posted by clave2843 View Post
    I mean, a reason beyond "because everyone says it that way"
    Many of the rules of grammar and pronunciation are based on the principle of following what other people do. It may not sound very scientific or satisfactory, but following other speakers in a speech community is a basic principle.

  6. #6
    bubbha is offline Senior Member
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    Re: The pronuncuation of the word breakfast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    But surely, ems, you've only shown that 'break' retains the original pronunciation; unless you are asserting also that 'fast' was pronounced 'f'st'.
    The vowel of "fast" is reduced to a schwa as a result of being in an unstressed syllable. Compare it with the "man" in "chairman".

    Compound words do indeed often take on a life of their own. Consider "boatswain", which is pronounced "bosun".
    NOT A TEACHER. Translator and editor, and I hold a TESOL certificate. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

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