American pronunciation: "mirror" vs. "merer"

mjd   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 03:27 GMT

Yes I differentiate between "merry" and "Marry."

The "mi" in "mirror" has the [i..] sound.
Paul   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 16:40 GMT
Hi Tim
I differentiate Ma-ry from merr-y by syllable boundary. Ma-ry and marr-y sound the same.

I took a look at this accent distribution map, and there does seems to be regional variation, in this map, even though there is a lot of overlap.

Only 17% pronounce all three differently (Harvard Accent Survey):

The 17% (d) who pronounce all 3 differently seem to be centred in the cities, particularly New York.

Choice (a) no difference predominates especially in the west.

Choice (e) which also minimizes differences is focused in the midwest.
(The word merry is rarely used in American English except as part of the Holiday greeting Merry Xmas)

The other choices (b+c) seem to southern based.

Regards, Paul V

P.S. I would always expect to see regional variation.
Alice   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 19:10 GMT
This may sound strange, but the difference for me between "Mary" and "marry" is that the first vowel in the former is somehow stronger, more pronounced, for lack of a beter word.
Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 19:11 GMT
OK, mjd, so you merge [ir] and [i..r], but you don't merge [e..r], [er], and [@r].

I had a teacher from Oregon who pronounced "zero" with absolutely no diphthongization, i.e. ['zirOu]. A large number of Americans probably pronounce it like that.

Others pronounce it like mjd ['zi..rOu] (with an [i] like the one in "bit") or closer to ['zi:..rOu] ("beat").

Anyway, I think there's something wrong about pronouncing a long vowel before a doubled consonant. A doubled consonant used to guarantee that the vowel before it is a short one. Diphthongs like [i..] (near) [u..] (tourist), and [e..] (staircase) used to occur only before a single r (never two r's).

Note to all Americans: Thanks for breaking yet another spelling-pronunciation rule. Are you happy now? :)
mjd   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 20:54 GMT

Well my "e" in "zero" doesn't sound like the "i" in "bit." It rhymes with "ear", "sheer", "gear" etc.

My "Mary", "marry", and "merry" all sound different and if one looks at the chart that Paul supplied us with, the blue area in which all of them are pronounced differently falls right on top of my native New Jersey.

Hey, it's our accent.
Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 23:38 GMT
I was talking about the [i] that's part of the [i..] diphthong.
mjd   Wednesday, February 04, 2004, 00:38 GMT
Oh, okay....sorry about that.
Khatiya   Saturday, February 07, 2004, 19:55 GMT
I never knew that so little people pronounce marry and Mary differently. I pronounce those the same way, but merry differently. Interesting...
Ryan   Sunday, February 08, 2004, 01:31 GMT
The Mary, merry and marry thing is an east coast thing. You can say that it's "correct English" to not distinguish them in pronunciation because a greater percentage of people in the US don't, but if you visit New York City people will definitely know you are not a native. There really isn't one "correct" American accent. Even if you listen to CNN, the newscasters often pronounce words slightly differently based upon where they grew up.
Steve   Monday, February 16, 2004, 04:20 GMT
If ''merer'' were a word I would pronounce it the same way as I pronounce ''mirror''. I pronounce ''Mary'', ''marry'' and ''merry'' the same. I also pronounce ''caught'' and ''cot'' the same.