Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

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briwayjones
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Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby briwayjones » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:03 am

This has always bothered me. And using Inkscape just reminded me of it. The example is "opaque" and "opacity". When saying "opaque" the "a" is said as a vowel. But when "opacity" is said the "a" is said as a consonant. Why is that? Why isn't the "a" in "opacity" also said as a vowel? Personally I think it sounds better that way. Am I forgetting something from elementary English class?

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brynn
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby brynn » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:22 am

I think you might be forgetting something, lol. The letter "a" is always a vowel. It's impossible to pronounce it as a consonant, because it's just not a consonant.

"Opaque" is pronounced with (what was called when I learned to read and write....a long time ago!) a 'long a', or in other words, it sounds like itself. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/opaque In "opacity" the "a" is pronounced with a 'short a' which I have no idea how to explain with text. Sounds like the "a" in "yak". Here's that info: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/opacity

BUT since this forum exists only as text (and images) i.e. reading and writing, you can pronounce it however you like, and we'll never know the difference. :lol:

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flamingolady
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby flamingolady » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:48 am

I'm trying to figure out how you are pronouncing the long a. Maybe it just has to do with linguistics and where you learned to speak - meaning what part of the country in which you learned how to speak? example: I'm a southerner, but from Va, so we have a little slower draw than from the northern folks, etc.
In opacity, I pronounce it like, Long O - pa (short a) - sit (long) E
In opaque, Long O, pa (long a), ck. (rhymes with Ocake).
I think it would be harder to pronounce opaque with a short a, though in my mind, the a is 'almost' pronounced the same way.

briwayjones
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby briwayjones » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:57 pm

Sorry long "a" and short "a" is what I meant. I say opaque with a long "a" ("a" says itself). Now I personally always want to say opacity also with a long "a", because that's how you say opaque. And personally I think it sounds better. But of course the correct way to say it is with a short "a". Which brings me back to my original question, why aren't they both said with a long "a"?

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sas
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby sas » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:39 pm

briwayjones wrote:Which brings me back to my original question, why aren't they both said with a long "a"?

I don't know the answer to this question, but there's nothing unusual about opacity in this respect - shortening of a vowel before -ity is a normal occurrence, e.g., sanity (compared with sane), vanity (compared with vain), obscenity (compared with obscene), profanity (compared with profane), audacity (compared with audacious), etc.

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brynn
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby brynn » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:43 pm

Which brings me back to my original question, why aren't they both said with a long "a"?

I guess it's just the rules of pronunciation. But as I learned in school, the rules of pronunciation are not hard and fast. I can't think of any of the rules I learned, that doesn't have an exception, lol.

I think the e on the end of opaque dictates the long a sound. And I think because the a in opacity falls between 2 consonants, it indicates it should be pronounced with the short a. Not always is a vowel between 2 consonants pronounced with the short vowel sound. But usually it is.

Of course these rules I learned are for American English. I imagine that British English has some different rules.

For some words, there is more than one way to pronounce it. But according the info at the links I provided, there is only one way to pronounce these words. I think sometimes word pronunciation is more related to the word origin than the rules of pronunciation.

And that's all I know about it, lol :D

Oops, hi sas, you posted while I was typing. I didn't think about the 'ity', but that sounds like a reasonable explanation :D

briwayjones
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby briwayjones » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:27 am

I guess it's just one of those things. One of those things I've forgotten about. English was never my forte' anyway.

reeze
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Re: Question for the english majors...word pronunciation?

Postby reeze » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:49 pm

Don’t really why such thing is needed, to make the pronunciation good in hearing, never mind. The word “Opaque” contains diphthong or gliding vowel; it’s like a+e in a.


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