"-ary" endings

Guy   Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:55 pm GMT
One of the big differences between RP and GA is that in words ending with -ary or -ery like "secondary", GA has a full vowel sound /Eri/ with secondary stress on it and RP generally drop the vowel and say /ri/ or /@ri/.

For example, for me,
secondary /"sEk@nd'Eri/
stationary /"steiS@n'Eri/
library /"laibr@'rEri/

and here's my father's pronunciation (he has a typical British accent though it's not RP)
secondary /"sEk@ndri/
stationary /"steiS@n@ri/
library /"laibri/ or /"laibr@ri/

However, recently I realized the word "documentary" doesn't follow the rule, as I pronounce it /"dA:kj@'mEntri/, and find it hard to pronounce it any other way. My father pronounces it more or less as /"dQkj@'mentrI/ and apart from some vowel differences, there is no big difference in the stress pattern.

Also for me, the word "primary" could be pronounced either /"pr\aIm'Eri/ or /"pr\raIm@ri/. (possibly it has something to do with my parents' influence but I hear some of my friends say the latter too so I think it's quite a common pronunciation around here.

Any thoughts?
Guy   Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:03 pm GMT
Sorry, documentary is pronounced
/'dA:kj@"mEntri/ by me and
/'dQkj@"mentrI/ by my father.
Felix the Cassowary   Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:42 am GMT
I think it's probably got something to do with the stress pattern: If you must keep a full vowel, there's an unstressed vowel before it; if you must lax or delete the vowel, there's a a secondarily-stressed one before it, whereas you seem to potentially have both options if there's the primary stress before it.

(I tend to delete after certain consonants, and keep the full vowel after the rest with only a handful of individual words having a schwa. So I'll say /dɪkʃənri/ or /dɪkʃəneri/ /stæɪʃənri/ or /stæɪʃəneri/ in free variation but I prefer the latters; /prɑemri/, /sekəndʒri/, /lɑebri/, /dɔkjəmentri/, /dʒænjəri/ (January) and /febjəri/ (February) as the only possible; /bætʃri/ or /bætəri/ depending on the meaning. If you add "ly", then they always have the full vowel, so /sekəndʒri/~/sekənderəli/.)
Kirk   Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:55 am GMT
These are my pronunciations for those words. I don't have any of the reduced versions, even as free-variation possibilities:

secretary ["sEkr\It_hEr\i]
secondary ["sEkInd'Eri]
stationary/stationery ["steSInEr\i]
library ["laIbr\Eri]
documentary [dAkjM"mEn@`i]
primary ["pr\aImEr\i]
January ["dZ{njMEr\i]
battery ["b{4@`i]
veteran ["vE4@`In]

The only exception I can think of right now is "elementary" where the typical American pronunciation follows the British pattern. This is my pronunciation of it:

elementary [ElI"mEntSr\i]
Travis   Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:32 am GMT
I pronounce as unreduced:

"secretary" : /"sEkrE%teri/ -> ["sE.kr\E.%t_he:.r\i]
"secondary" : /"sEkIn%deri/ -> ["sE.kI~n.%de:.r\i]
"stationary" : /"steSI%neri/ -> ["ste.SI~.%ne:.r\i]
"primary" : /"praImeri/ -> ["p_hr\_0a:I~.me.r\i]
"January" : /"dZ{nju%eri/ -> ["dZ{~:.Ju.%we:.r\i]
"battery" : /"b{t@`i/ -> ["b{.4@`.i]

I pronounce as reduced:

"documentary" : /%dAkju"mEntri/ -> [%dA.kju~."mE~:n.tSr\i]
"elementary" : /%El@"mEntri/ -> [%E:.5@~."mE~:n.tSr\i]
"veteran" : /"vEtrIn/ -> ["vE.tSr\I~n]
Lazar   Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:23 am GMT
I use the unreduced versions of the following words, like Kirk does:

secretary [sEkr\@tEr\i]
secondary [sEkn=dEr\i]
stationary/stationery [steISn=Er\i]
library [laIbr\Er\i]
documentary [dQkj@mEnt@`i]
primary [pr\aImEr\i]
January [dZ{njuEr\i]
battery [b{4@`i]

However I use the reduced version for "veteran" as well as for "elementary":

veteran [vEtr\@n]
elementary [ElImEntr\i]
Uriel   Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:19 am GMT
I say all three syllables in veteran, (and all all six in veterinarian) and I have heard elementary pronounced both ways in the US. I say "elementry", but my best friend in NY used to say "elementary (well, actually more like "elemenerry").
Brennus   Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:20 am GMT

The pronunciations you say that you use (/"sEk@nd'Eri/ "steiS@n'Eri/
and /"laibr@'rEri/ ) parallel my own. The ones your father uses are characteristic of what is commonly called "clipped speech" or a "clipped (British) accent."

Clipped accents are very strong among some speakers from London I've met. In the United States, the accent of Boston is considered an example of a clipped accent. I've read that clipped speech occurs in some foreign languages too but nothing detailed, unfortunately.

Apparentlty, too much clipping can interfere with intelligibility in a language if you don't speak that way yourself.
Kirk   Wed Nov 16, 2005 9:07 am GMT
<<(and all all six in veterinarian)>>

Yup, like you, I have [vE4@`In"Er\iIn] there. However, I may also say [vEtSr\I"nEr\iIn] in free variation, I believe.
Lazar   Wed Nov 16, 2005 10:04 am GMT
I usually say [vEtr\InE@`I@n], with five syllables.
Lazar   Wed Nov 16, 2005 10:06 am GMT
That should be [vEtr\InE@`i@n] above.
Travis   Wed Nov 16, 2005 4:59 pm GMT
I myself always say "veterinarian" as /%vEtrI"neriIn/ -> [%vE.tSr\I~."ne:.r\iI~n].
Guest   Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:40 pm GMT
How do you pronounce <canary>, BTW?
Guy   Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:51 pm GMT
It's /"k{n@`ri/ ==>> /k_h{n@`ri/ for me.
eito(jpn)   Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:19 pm GMT
The stress is on the second sillable. It's like kuh-NAIR-ee.