My question is more about the pronunciation of words like arbitrary, oblivion and experience. The way theses words are divided into syllables make them harder for me to pronounce them due to the lack of certain consonant clusters in my native language. Take for example the word "arbitrary"; according to dictionaries, one should pronounce this word like /ˈär. bi. tre.rē/. Now it is much easier for me to say it like /ˈär. bit. rerē/. Or instead /əˈblivēən/ I would say /əb'livēən/. I want to know if I say theses words the way I divided their sounds, will a native speaker pick up on that?

  • You are giving IPA phonetic symbols + hyphenation.
    – Lambie
    Feb 22 at 21:19
  • For English, the stress pattern is important, so dividing the sounds into syllables at the wrong place might bring some confusion into where the stress should be placed. In my mind, "arbitrary" has four syllables, but the most important thing is not the syllable count but where the stress accent goes. In American English we say AR bi TRary. Whether you count "trary" as one syllable or two probably isn't really audible per se, but your secondary stress should be along with "tr", if you want this word to sound in the American way. Note that the stress pattern is often different in the UK.
    – Brandin
    Mar 23 at 12:07
  • As an American English speaker, if I try to follow your first diagram /ˈär. bit. rerē/ then I'll end up having to say "bit" separately with the ending "t" needing to be pronounced as its own sound, so that specific part will sound a bit unnatural to my ear, as if I'm overenunciating the "t". Not wrong per se, but if I say it that way, then I believe it will sound to other Americans with a good ear as if I'm slightly overpronouncing that sound in the word for some reason.
    – Brandin
    Mar 23 at 12:11
  • For your second example, oblivion, then for my ear, the "blivion" part needs to be its own sound. Again it's about stress. If I try to forcefully say /əb'livēən/, then again I have to try to move the stress to the sound "livion" and to make the first part as its own sound, which will result in the labial sound in [əb] (sounds like "ub") a bit overpronounced for this word. In this case the stress is the same in UK/US. But in US, we often pronounce the beginning of that word as [oʊ] or [o] as well, just like we do for the word "obituary" or "opine".
    – Brandin
    Mar 23 at 12:24


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.