Comfortable

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eldin raigmore
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Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 24 Sep 2019 05:56

When I was young I pronounced it as if it were spelled “kumfterbul”.
Three syllables, the first one accented, and the /r/ after the /t/ and before the /b/, and no vowel between the /f/ and the /t/.
As far as I could tell nearly everyone I knew nearly always pronounced it that way.

I didn’t start pronouncing it with four syllables, putting a rhotacized schwa between the /f/ and the /t/, and making the schwa between the /t/ and the /b/ unrhotacized, until I learned how to spell it. Even now, in allegro speech, I’m not sure I don’t still pronounce it the old, three-syllable way, with the metastasized rhotic.
It’s kind of unnatural to me to have three unstressed syllables in a row. I still pronounce it with the primary stress on the first syllable, but I think I may usually put a secondary stress on the last syllable.

Does anyone else have a similar experience with this word?

Or with other words?

Maybe in other languages?

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Ser
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Re: Comfortable

Post by Ser » 24 Sep 2019 08:20

/ˈkʌmftəbəl/ [ˈkʰɐmftəbəɫ] is the most common pronunciation here in Vancouver, and is also the one that both gets mentioned the most in dictionaries and is typically taught in ESL classes. I've heard four-syllable pronunciations from native speakers sometimes, but only rarely.

Your pronunciation, /ˈkʌmftɚbəl/, is reported in some resources such as Wiktionary and John Wells' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2000, 2nd edition).


The word "interesting" is a similar case for many speakers. The most reported pronunciation in dictionaries is the trisyllabic /ˈɪntɹəstɪŋ/ (or /-tɹɪs-/, or /-tɹɛs-/), but the quadrisyllabic /ˈɪntəɹɛstɪŋ/ (or -/təɹəs/-) is mentioned in some resources such as Lexico.com's British & World English dictionary, Wiktionary, and also Wells' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Pabappa » 24 Sep 2019 16:01

I only started using the 4-syllable word when I got a job in retail and felt that speaking clearly might help me make more sales. I wasnt selling furniture, but I spruced up my speech patterns in general so that was one of the words I paid attention to. I like it better this way anyhow.
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Lao Kou » 24 Sep 2019 17:26

YAEPTs rule, man! [xD]
Ser wrote:
24 Sep 2019 08:20
Your pronunciation, /ˈkʌmftɚbəl/, is reported in some resources such as Wiktionary and John Wells' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2000, 2nd edition).
Certainly my most common, everyday pronunciation. As an ESL teacher, one tries to start with the highfalutin pronunciation and then let students know what they are also likely to hear out there in the wild.
The word "interesting" is a similar case for many speakers. The most reported pronunciation in dictionaries is the trisyllabic /ˈɪntɹəstɪŋ/ (or /-tɹɪs-/, or /-tɹɛs-/), but the quadrisyllabic /ˈɪntəɹɛstɪŋ/ (or -/təɹəs/-) is mentioned in some resources such as Lexico.com's British & World English dictionary, Wiktionary, and also Wells' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.
Well, dropped schwas are hardly new under the sun ("interesting" and "different" are common in my repertoire). What would make this more analogous to /ˈkʌmftɚbəl/, which also seems to have a little metathesis action going on, would be /ˈɪntɚsting/ (which I don't personally recall hearing), and /ˈdɪfɚnt/ (which only makes me think of the Jonathan Winters character Grandma Frickert (which probably means it exists elsewhere in the Anglehood).
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Re: Comfortable

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 24 Sep 2019 18:16

I trained myself to pronounce "February" as /ˈfɛb.ɹuˌɛɹi/ as opposed to /ˈfɛb.juˌɛɹi/, which I said as a kid. The "correct" pronunciation is automatic for me now and /ˈfɛb.juˌɛɹi/ sounds juvenile and incorrect to my ears. My pronunciation of "comfortable" remains /ˈkʌmft.ɚb.əl/, however [:D]

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Reyzadren » 24 Sep 2019 23:14

I have always pronounced comfortable /'kɔmfətəbəl/ and interesting /'intərəstiŋ/ as 4 syllables. I don't see any problem with having 3 unstressed syllables after the first one.
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Re: Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 25 Sep 2019 00:31

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
24 Sep 2019 18:16
I trained myself to pronounce "February" as /ˈfɛb.ɹuˌɛɹi/ as opposed to /ˈfɛb.juˌɛɹi/, which I said as a kid. The "correct" pronunciation is automatic for me now and /ˈfɛb.juˌɛɹi/ sounds juvenile and incorrect to my ears. My pronunciation of "comfortable" remains /ˈkʌmft.ɚb.əl/, however [:D]
“FEB you Air ree”! Me too! Thanks for reminding me!

—————

Also, @ser and @Lao Kou, the 3-syllable “IN tress sting” and the 2-syllable “DIFF rent” were my original allegro speech: and may still be for all I know, sometimes.
I had heard “IN terr sting” and “DIFF fernt” as a youngster, but they always sounded country or old-fashioned to me.

—————

@Reyzadren, not having three unstressed syllables in a row in the same word, is a constraint of binary rhythm (similar to not allowing two consecutive stressed syllables). If a language has binary rhythm, its words should for the most part be composed of trochees and iambs. My native ‘lect of English has binary rhythm.

I assume some ‘lects of English may have ternary rhythm, or have polar secondary stress rather than rhythmic secondary stress.
If a ‘lect has ternary rhythm, words are mostly composed of trochees, iambs, amphibrachs, and dactyls; or of trochees, iambs, amphibrachs, and anapests. In either case the constraint is against four consecutive unstressed syllables.
I may be mistaken but it seems possible any ‘lects of English that have ternary rhythm belong to ESL learners? At any rate I can’t seem to recall specifically noticing someone speaking English prose with ternary rhythm.

If a ‘lect doesn’t have rhythm — e.g. has polar secondary stress, or doesn’t have secondary stress — the limit on consecutive runs of unstressed syllables is governed by the limit on number of syllables in a word. (If there’s an n-syllable word it must allow at least (n-2)/3 consecutively unstressed syllables, because it can contain at most two stresses — a primary one and, optionally, a secondary one).

I have heard on film and TV educated or upper class English characters, played by British-trained British actors, speak English without secondary stress, or at least without rhythm. I think.
It always sounds unnatural to me. I assume that’s just lack of experience on my part.

===== ===== ====== ===== =====

Incidentally; does any native speaker of any other L1 have any similar or analogous experience or anecdote to relate to us?

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Khemehekis » 25 Sep 2019 02:38

I've always pronounced "comfortable" with four syllables, yet still with the counterorthographic r/t metathesis: /ˈkʌmftəɹəbəl/. I outgrew /ˈfɛbjuˌæɹi/ and /ˈlaiˌbæɹi/ back in childhood and now don't even have to think about saying them right.

I still use /kəŋˌgɹædʒjuˈleiʃənz/ for "congratulations", just like everyone I know, even though the dictionary says to say /kəŋˌgɹætʃjuˈleiʃənz/. Same with /ˈsɛkənt/ instead of /ˈsɛkənd/ for "second". I say /ˈɑstɹɪtʃ/ for "ostrich" after being told as a child that /ˈɑstɹɪdʒ/ was wrong, but I know a lot of people who still say /ˈɑstɹɪdʒ/. I use /ˈsændwɪtʃ/ for "sandwich", but I know a lot of people who say /ˈsænwɪdʒ/ or somesuch.

I was told that /ˈtaipəˌɹaiɾɚ/ with four syllables for "typewriter" and /ˈnusˌpeipɚ/ with a /s/ for "newspaper" are wrong, but I still say them that way because that's what I keep hearing. My mother (who was born in Illinois) once told me that /ˈwɪndmil/ for "windmill" is wrong, and that it should be /ˈwɪndmɪl/, but I was just saying what I heard other people say. I googled "windmeal" a few years back and discovered that it's a peculiarly Californian pronunciation of the word. Having lived in California all my life, it's no wonder I say /ˈwɪndmil/!
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Re: Comfortable

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 25 Sep 2019 18:11

I'm fifth-generation Californian on my dad's side and I've never heard /wɪndmil/ in my life. [xD]

But the shift of /ɪ/ to /i/ in some environments is a feature of California speech; apparently "king" is pronounced more like /kiŋ/ in some areas of SoCal.

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Dormouse559 » 25 Sep 2019 19:28

What's with these implications that it's more correct to pronounce both R's in "February"? :wat: I'll be sure to explain that to the Brits who say /ˈfɛb.ɹi/. Anyway, you'll soon see where my loyalties lie. [:P]

Let's see. I have:

comfortable /ˈkʌmft.ɚb.əl/
February /ˈfɛb.juˌɛ.ɹi/
windmill /ˈwɪnd.mɪl/

The four-syllable pronunciation of "comfortable" and the two-R pronunciation of "February" feel odd in my mouth. I might use them during extremely careful enunciation. As a native Northern Californian, I can't say I've ever heard /ˈwɪnd.mil/, but who knows?

One pronunciation feature that always catches my attention is saying "orange juice" as /ˈɔ.ɹɪnˌd͡ʒuːs/. I say /ˈɔ.ɹɪnd͡ʒ ˈd͡ʒuːs/.

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eldin raigmore
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Re: Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 25 Sep 2019 20:00

I no longer think any of the pronunciations are incorrect. I haven’t thought so since 2000 at the latest, and probably much longer.
However as a pre-college (possibly pre-secondary) youth, I did try to conform my pronunciation to the spelling; and maybe I thought I was more correct when I did so.
Out of habit I still try to pronounce some words more in line with their spelling, in portato speech. In allegro speech I’m just not careful so I don’t always even notice what I do.

......

I have never in my life heard “king” pronounced with a “short I”! I can’t even make myself do it now, so I’m having trouble imagining what it sounds like!

____________________

BTW thanks for all the new examples!
Especially orange juice and typewriter.

. . . . . .

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Reyzadren » 25 Sep 2019 23:20

eldin raigmore wrote:
25 Sep 2019 00:31
@Reyzadren, not having three unstressed syllables in a row in the same word, is a constraint of binary rhythm (similar to not allowing two consecutive stressed syllables). If a language has binary rhythm, its words should for the most part be composed of trochees and iambs. My native ‘lect of English has binary rhythm.

I may be mistaken but it seems possible any ‘lects of English that have ternary rhythm belong to ESL learners? At any rate I can’t seem to recall specifically noticing someone speaking English prose with ternary rhythm.

===== ===== ====== ===== =====

Incidentally; does any native speaker of any other L1 have any similar or analogous experience or anecdote to relate to us?
I don't know much about rhythm in English (it is an illogical natlang to me anyway, so I pronounce it through exp or a dictionary), but if you're wondering if I am an ESL student, you are well aware that I am a native/L1 English speaker though bilingual. Also, I have heard Americans pronouncing "interesting" with 1 stressed + 3 unstressed syllables, and it sounds totally natural to me.

As an L1 speaker in that other natlang, there are 6~8 syllable words with many consecutive unstressed syllables after a single stressed syllable. Easy, and it happens.
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Re: Comfortable

Post by Khemehekis » 26 Sep 2019 01:42

This may be of interest:

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define. ... ind%20Meal

Oh, and to me "orange juice" is /ɔɹnd͡ʒ d͡ʒjus/. I stick a /j/ before the /u/ in "juice", "Jewish", "jewelry", "June", "junior", "Judy" and "juvenile". I was floored when I learned this wasn't the prescribed pronunciation. (I changed /d͡ʒus/ to /d͡ʒjus/ in a Wikipedia article that discussed the pronunciation of "orange juice", and was reverted. I looked them up and discovered ALL the dictionaries give all these words as /d͡ʒu/!) I can't imagine saying any of these without the /j/!
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Re: Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 26 Sep 2019 03:54

Reyzadren wrote:
25 Sep 2019 23:20
Also, I have heard Americans pronouncing "interesting" with 1 stressed + 3 unstressed syllables, and it sounds totally natural to me.
Hmm!
as near as I can tell and as far as I know, all the four-syllable pronunciations of “interesting” I can remember hearing from Americans, put a secondary stress on the third syllable!?!!???

Maybe I’ve just heard different Americans than you’ve heard.
Edit: I have definitely heard it in English English; so that makes it plausible-to-me that at least one or a few North American ‘lects of English also attest this. But I don’t remember ever hearing one.

As an L1 speaker in that other natlang, there are 6~8 syllable words with many consecutive unstressed syllables after a single stressed syllable. Easy, and it happens.
That squares with what I’ve heard and read about some natlangs; and I believe it.

. . . . . . . . . .
Spoiler:
Some people claim that some natlangs with words of two or three or more syllables have no stress nor rhythm at all, neither primary nor secondary. I have yet to hear any convincing evidence of that, so I remain unconvinced, even though some of those claimants are famous linguisticians. For conlanging purposes I adopt the position that any language with words of more than one syllable must have either primary stress or rhythm or both. So far nobody has proven me wrong to my own satisfaction. Any counterexample that would convince me would have to include a sound recording I could hear. A mere list of languages or written examples wouldn’t do it, not even from big-name linguists.
Last edited by eldin raigmore on 26 Sep 2019 16:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Ser » 26 Sep 2019 07:47

eldin raigmore wrote:
24 Sep 2019 05:56
It’s kind of unnatural to me to have three unstressed syllables in a row. I still pronounce it with the primary stress on the first syllable, but I think I may usually put a secondary stress on the last syllable.

Does anyone else have a similar experience with this word?

Or with other words?

Maybe in other languages?
I can't recall any example of this sort in Spanish, by the way. Much of the segment reduction/elision in my speech (a Salvadoran dialect) involves dropping an initial unstressed syllable (tomá [ˈma], esperate [peˈɾate], imaginate [mahiˈnate], estar [taɾ]) or dropping consonants (le dice [le ˈise], culebra de cascabel [kuˈleβɾa e kahkaˈβel]), the raising of unstressed /i e o u/ to /j j w w/ before a different vowel of equal or lower aperture (palear > paliar [paˈljaɾ], lo extraña [lw‿eksˈtɾaɲa]), or the collision of identical vowels (se enteró [s‿enteˈɾo], contrast se adueñó [se‿aðweˈɲo]), without regard to any notion of "secondary stress" at all.

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eldin raigmore
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Re: Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 26 Sep 2019 16:49

Thank you, Ser!

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Re: Comfortable

Post by Tuyono » 26 Sep 2019 20:58

Not a native speaker, but let's see:

Both "comfortable" and "interesting" are always 3 syllables for me, but I've heard people pronounce them as four syllables. I didn't know this was considered more correct.

I think I've never heard /ˈfɛb.ɹuˌɛɹi/ in my life, but maybe I just didn't notice? What I know is that I can't pronounce it like that unless I speak super sloooowwwlllyyy [:P] Even that /j/ is something I add intentionally: if my accent slips I'll say/ˈfɛ.bu.æ.ɹi/ .
Khemehekis wrote:
26 Sep 2019 01:42
Oh, and to me "orange juice" is /ɔɹnd͡ʒ d͡ʒjus/. I stick a /j/ before the /u/ in "juice", "Jewish", "jewelry", "June", "junior", "Judy" and "juvenile". I was floored when I learned this wasn't the prescribed pronunciation. (I changed /d͡ʒus/ to /d͡ʒjus/ in a Wikipedia article that discussed the pronunciation of "orange juice", and was reverted. I looked them up and discovered ALL the dictionaries give all these words as /d͡ʒu/!) I can't imagine saying any of these without the /j/!
I know I say "juvenile" without that extra /j/, but now I've become unsure about all the other examples!
eldin raigmore wrote:
24 Sep 2019 05:56
Maybe in other languages?
In Hebrew the word צריכה /t͡sriˈχa/(need.PRES.SG.F) is very often reduced to [t͡seˈχa] or [ˈt͡sχa], the latter being my default (the same happenes in the other gender and number forms). If I think the other person might not hear me clearly, like on the phone or when I'm trying to get their attention in a noisy place, I'll still say [t͡seˈχa]. The "correct" pronounciation makes me think of someone speaking in front of a crowd, singing, or being somewhat formal.
I'm not sure it has anything to do with what you were aiming for, seeing as the original word is just two syllables anyway, but it might be similar to the Spanish thing.

Edit:
I just realized that the other meaning of צריכה (consumption) is never reduced the same way - it's always [t͡sriˈχa] probably because it's less common in everyday speech.

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Re: Comfortable

Post by eldin raigmore » 27 Sep 2019 02:55

Thanks, Tuyono! That’s exactly on point!

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