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Why is &quotiron&quot pronounced &quotEYE-URN&quot but not &quotEYE-RUN&quot?

The pronunciation of ‘iron’ in commonplace types of English is EYE-URN (BrE: /’aɪən/, AmE: /’aɪrn/) and never EYE-RUN (which can also be a standard pronunciation of ‘iron’ in some types of English) due to a quite common course of referred to as Metathesis. It is outlined because the transposition/rearrangement of letters, syllables or phonemes (sounds) in a phrase.

There are another phrases that present the identical change; ‘wasp’ was waps, ‘fowl’ was brid and ‘horse’ was hros, however they’ve modified over time. Why is that?

See more: Why is iron pronounced iern

It is due to a quite common course of referred to as Metathesis. /’aɪən/ is the metathesised model of (/’aɪrən/). ‘Iron’ generally was pronounced the way in which it is spelt (/’aɪrən/), however on account of metathesis, its pronunciation turned EYE-URN (/’aɪən/). Different phrases akin to horse, fowl, third and so on., mirror the change in spelling; nevertheless, ‘iron’ would not mirror that change most likely as a result of metathesis utilized to it after the spelling was standardised.

Metathesis:

Metathesis is outlined as ’the transposition/rearrangement of letters, syllables or phonemes (sounds) in a phrase’.

Examples:

  • ‘wasp‘ was waps (wæps) [transposition of p and s]
  • ‘fowl’ was brid [transposition of i and r]

{Historic Metathesis}

  • ‘combine’ being pronounced /mɪsk/ relatively than /mɪks/ [transposition of k and s]

  • ‘desk’ being pronounced /dɛks/ relatively than /dɛsk/ [transposition of k and s]

  • ‘trendy’ being pronounced /’mɒdɹən/ as an alternative of /ˈmɒd(ə)n/ (US: /ˈmɑː.dɚn/)

  • ‘sample’ being pronounced /pætɹən/ as an alternative of /ˈpæt.ən/ (US: /ˈpæɾ.ɚn/)

  • One other well-known instance from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ is the determine of Caliban whose title originates from a phonological metathesis of /n/ and /l/ in ‘cannibal’. [ThoughtCo]

/r/-metathesis

Phrases having /r/ + vowel sequences are extra inclined to metathesis than others. In accordance with A grammar of Previous English Phonology by Richard Hogg, ‘R-metathesis usually happens when /r/ is adopted by a brief vowel and a dental or alveolar consonant, often /n/ or /s/’.

‘Iron’ is an instance of /r/-metathesis. It was most likely pronounced /’aɪrən/ (EYE-RUN) at one level, nevertheless it obtained metathesised to /’aɪərn/ (EYE-URN). Nevertheless, the spelling remained unaffected.

Different examples of metathesis of /r/ embody:

  • fowl from brid (bridde)
  • third from thridde (ðridde)
  • horse from hros

The silent R in ‘iron’ in BrE

The rationale why the r in ‘iron’ is absent in British English is as a result of the r is adopted by a consonant now (adopted by /n/ in /’aɪərn/) and British English is non-rhotic, which means the r is just pronounced when adopted by a vowel. The identical factor occurred to ‘fowl’, ‘horse’ and ‘third’ too (i.e. the r is adopted by a consonant, so it is silent).

There are several types of metathesis, ‘colonel’ (pronounced KE(R)-NUHL /’kɜː(r)nl̩/) will also be mentioned to be a product of metathesis. (See this reply on ELU for the spelling and pronunciation of ‘colonel’)

In accordance with Wikipedia, the explanation for ‘widespread speech errors’ can also be metathesis. Examples embody:

  • perscription for prescription
  • interduce for introduce
  • revelant for related
  • foilage and foliage

References:

  • A Dictionary of Phonetics and Phonology – Trask and Lawrence
  • English Phrases: Historical past and Construction by Stockwell and Minkova
  • A Grammar of Previous English Phonology by Richard Hogg
  • Metathesis – ThoughtCo
  • The Sounds of Language: An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology – Elizabeth C. Zsiga

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