AmE pronunciation of 'interesting'.

jiamajia

Senior Member
Mandarin
I constantly find that Americans prefer to pronounce 'interesting' as
'inter-resting' rather than 'intrəsting' as do the British.

How do you pronounce it as an American in this forum?

Thank you.
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I have lived on both coasts of the U.S. as well as the Midwest and mountain West and found myriad pronunciation of this word in the U.S., including the four-syllable version.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Sometimes in-ter-es-ting (to be honest, probably more like "in-ner-es-ting"), sometimes in-tress-ting. I'm not sure if there's any rhyme or reason to why I use one or the other in a given situation, although I think I use the 4-syllable version more often. Interestingly :D, I always pronounce "interestingly" as in-tress-ting-lee.
     

    Learningit

    Member
    Finnish, Finland
    This newer question has been added to a previous thread.
    Please scroll up and read from the top.

    Cagey, moderator

    Hi,

    I heard in a video that someone from the US pronounced the word "interesting" as "ineresting". Is it, perhaps, a southern accent?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Hi, Learngit. There are three possibilities.

    (A) In "correct" AmE (but not in BrE), the letter T is pronounced in three ways:

    #1. non-voiced and plosive (aspirated): at the start of a word, or the start of a stressed syllable
    #2. non-voiced and non-plosive (not aspirated): in the middle of a word
    #3. voiced and non-plosive (not aspirated): in the middle of a word, when it's a single consonant between two vowels

    #3 is identical to the pronunciation of the letter D.

    The T in "interesting" has pronunciation #2. That form of T is harder to hear than #1 or #3 or 'D'. So you may hear the combination of 'NT' (with that very soft T) and think you are hearing N.

    (B) Or the T may be unpronounced (like a glottal stop): it is just a tiny hesitation between "n" and "er".

    (C) Or the T may be skipped entirely (no hesitation). It is fairly common to say "ineresting". But it isn't part of a regional accent. AE speakers from all over do this.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    It confuse us indeed. Chinese learners only understand "in-trees-ting". I thought it was a (or two, or three) completely new word(s) when I heard "inter-resting" for the first time.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    SuperXW,

    The "in-tri-sting" pronunciation is very common in BE (British English). Maybe BE is the English you know best.

    In AE (American English) "in-ter-e-sting" is very common. But in AE both pronunciations are used.

    There are hundreds of differences between AE and BE. Some are pronunciation. Others are words (BE lorry, AE truck).
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    SuperXW,

    The "in-tri-sting" pronunciation is very common in BE (British English). Maybe BE is the English you know best.

    In AE (American English) "in-ter-e-sting" is very common. But in AE both pronunciations are used.

    There are hundreds of differences between AE and BE. Some are pronunciation. Others are words (BE lorry, AE truck).
    If you mean the second i in "in-tri-sting" is pronounced as a schwa, I'd agree. If you are suggesting it is pronounced as the i in bit, I'd be interested in the opinion of other BE speakers - I don't think I've heard that one:) (note that in BE , as distinct from AE, an unstressed i often retains much of its i quality).
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I have no personal opinion about the second vowel in BE "intresting". I was just copying the WR dictionary's Collins (BE) section:

    interesting /ˈɪntrɪstɪŋ -tərɪs-/
     

    jamckinnis

    New Member
    American English
    I constantly find that Americans prefer to pronounce 'interesting' as
    'inter-resting' rather than 'intrəsting' as do the British.

    How do you pronounce it as an American in this forum?

    Thank you.
    I find the pronunciation using four syllables offensive to my ears and I'm a native Texan. It's IN-tres-ting, not in-ter-EST-ing. It sounds like an illiterate hillbilly and yet it seems to be gaining favor in my experience.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It's IN-tres-ting, not in-ter-EST-ing. It sounds like an illiterate hillbilly and yet it seems to be gaining favor in my experience.
    Actually, you have that backwards. The four-syllable pronunciation is the older one, and was the only pronunciation given in the older editions of the Oxford English Dictionary (you will also find it is the only pronunciation given in the 1913 Webster's.) It would thus seem that the illiterate hillbillies you know are better educated than you realized, and that your standard for judging their literacy was a bit off.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I'm a hillbilly. I grew up in the North Jersey hills, in a suburb of New York City. That affected my accent. I use 4 syllables for "interesting", the way the word is spelled.

    I note that the WordReference dictionary lists both pronunciations, so apparently both are common regional variations. Even the BE part of the dictionary lists both the 3-syllable and 4-syllable pronunciation.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I find the pronunciation using four syllables offensive to my ears and I'm a native Texan. It's IN-tres-ting, not in-ter-EST-ing. It sounds like an illiterate hillbilly and yet it seems to be gaining favor in my experience.
    Did you really mean in-ter-EST-ing, with the main stress on the third syllable? I don't think I've heard that pronunciation: the four-syllable version I know still has primary stress on the first syllable.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I can't speak for them so I will. I'm sure the primary is still on the first syllable. But the est does steal the stress from the ting of the three syllable version.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, probably a secondary stress, and to indicate that it is a full vowel, rather than a reduced one.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Did you really mean in-ter-EST-ing, with the main stress on the third syllable? I don't think I've heard that pronunciation: the four-syllable version I know still has primary stress on the first syllable.
    Surprisingly, the 1785 edition of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary places the stress in the verb "interest" on the third syllable, which is a short step from in-ter-EST-ing.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I am fairly certain that I modify my pronunciation depending upon the situation.

    In normal conversation I believe I invariably say "intresting".

    But when I use it while thinking about a remark others had said, then it becomes "in-ter-esting" with the emphasis on the "in". This may be because I want a bit more time to construct my reply--I am not certain about the reason. But I am fairly certain that I have two ways of saying that same word.

    I cannot think of another word right now that I treat similarly.
     
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