American pronunciation: "mirror" vs. "merer"

Tom   Saturday, January 31, 2004, 14:57 GMT
Yeah, I know "merer" is not a real word, but if it was (derived from "mere"), would you pronounce it the same as "mirror"?

merer ['mi..r..(r)]
mirror ['mir..(r)]

In British English, the first vowel in "merer" would be a diphthong [i..].
In American, supposedly it would be [ir] in both words.
mjd   Sunday, February 01, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Yes, if there were such a word, I'd pronounce it the same as "mirror."
paul   Sunday, February 01, 2004, 17:37 GMT
I beg to differ.
Mirror is pronounced mir-er
rhymes with furour, dearer, spearer.
in American and Canadian Pronunciation
regards, Paul V.
mjd   Sunday, February 01, 2004, 18:13 GMT

I don't understand what you're disagreeing about. The first syllable of the word "mirror" rhymes the the vowel sound of the word "mere" in my accent (NE American). So if there were such a word as "merer" (a made-up word sounding like the word "mere"), it would rhyme with "mirror."
Jim   Monday, February 02, 2004, 00:05 GMT
No, my Aussie accent fits what you've described as British, so I wouldn't pronounce them the same.
Jacob   Monday, February 02, 2004, 12:30 GMT
>I know "merer" is not a real word, but if it was (derived from "mere"), would you pronounce it the same as "mirror"?

I'm American (rural, east coast), and yes, I'd pronounce them the same UNLESS I was making a conscious effort to speak clearly. If I was trying to make myself clear, the last syllable of "mirror" would be distinctly pronounced "or" (rhymes with for, oar, etc), not "er".
Paul V   Monday, February 02, 2004, 16:31 GMT
I agree. The way I speak, those 2 words would be homonyms.
Lavoisel   Monday, February 02, 2004, 16:36 GMT
Paul wrote: <<I agree. The way I speak, those 2 words would be homonyms. >>

Wouldn't be "homophone" more correct in this case?
Alice   Monday, February 02, 2004, 16:51 GMT
Yes, were there such a word as "merer", I think I would pronounce it the same as I do "mirror". What bothers me, (and it's a silly peve I know), is when people pronounce "mirror" to ryhme with "mere".
Tom   Monday, February 02, 2004, 17:49 GMT
Thanks for your replies.
There was a time when I would make a clear distinction between the two sounds. It made sense to me to pronounce "mere" with a diphthong, and "mirror" as a monophthong, given the spelling of the two words (the double r in "mirror" indicates a short vowel).

I even used to think that pronouncing "ir" the same as "eer" was a regional thing or perhaps sloppy pronunciation.

The same goes for "merry" and "Mary". It's funny that Americans would diphthongize a vowel when there is a double consonant in the spelling.

Of course, in AmE it's even hard to classify the vowel as either a monophthong or a diphthong. Sometimes you can hear the sound consists of two phases -- [i..r] or even [i(:)..r] -- other times you hear something close to a simple [ir].

If my ramblings had a point, I guess it would be that Americans like to merge their vowels. They threw away the British [o] and replaced it with [a:]. Now they've started to merge [o] and [o:] (40% of speakers), [e..] with [e], [i..] with [i], [u..] with [u].

What's next? My bet is [e] will merge with [@]. Already the American version of [e] is quite close to [@]. "Carry" and "marry", which previously were pronounced with an [@] are pronounced by virtually all Americans like "kerry" and "merry". Even "catch" turns into "ketch" in many areas (man, was I shocked to learn about this one).

As a side effect, spelling will become even more difficult for Americans, because more and more spellings will correspond to the same sound.
Jim   Monday, February 02, 2004, 23:55 GMT
Maybe they'll get another Webster and change all the spellings.
Alice   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 01:10 GMT
Interesting... I differentiate in my pronunciation between "merry" and "marry", but pronounce "catch" almost the same as I would "ketch", (at least some f the time, my vowels aren't always consistent), and I speak in the general american dialect, (or perhaps a slightly modified version thereof).
mjd   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 01:24 GMT
Yeah, "merry", "marry" and "Mary", for that matter, are all distinct in my accent.
Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 02:21 GMT
Mjd, do you mean to say you differentiate between "merry" and "Mary", but pronounce "mirror" with an "ear" sound?
Tom   Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 02:30 GMT
Only 17% pronounce all three differently (Harvard Accent Survey):