AmE Pronunciation: diverse

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Senior Member

Is there any statistical information about the AmE pronunciation of the word diverse, i.e. which is common: diverse with schwa or with long /i/? Other information such as where it is pronounced in a particular way would be useful but not necessary. The Longman pronunciation sometimes gives such information but not for diverse.
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Looking in the WR dictionary, I see two pronunciations listed: /dɪˈvɜrs, daɪ-/. Neither one uses schwa. One uses standard English "short I", and the other uses standard English "long I".

    Longman lists schwa instead of short I, but I do not think that is accurate . It is useful for foreign readers, since English short-I is an uncommon sound in world languages, so is probably "not different from schwa" to many foreigners. But when you click on the blue (AmE) audio button at the top of Longman's "diverse" page (diverse | meaning of diverse in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE) the sound it plays is clearly short I and not schwa.

    Both of them are spoken with the accent (emphasis) on either syllable, but in AE the most common are "di-VERSE" and "DAI-verse".

    Back to your question: the short I (di-verse) version is far more common than the long I (dai-verse) version. I would guess 90% short I, 10% long I.

    To me "dai-verse" sounds old-fashioned, like people reading from the Bible ("and there came upon them diverse plagues..."). But it may be regional. I've lived mostly in the northeast US and northwest US.

    The phrase "diverse plagues" brings up an accent issue. That 2-word phrase is hard to say properly using di-VERSE (with its 2d-syllable accent), but easy to say using DAI-verse (with an unaccented second syllable). The same is true for many other examples of "diverse" preceding a stressed syllable. To say them correctly, you have to pause briefly between the two stressed syllables. That may be one reason speakers use the dai- version.
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