comparable (pronunciation)

akelas

Senior Member
Spanish, from Spain
Hello,

Where does the accent fall in the word "comparable"?
Despite all dictionaries giving
/'kɒmpərəbəl/ with accent falling on first syllable, when I hear the audio, I often hear the accent falling on the second, thus changing the vowels of the first and second syllables, something like this:
kəm'pærəbəl

Are both forms accepted?
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I mostly hear it with the accent on the first syllable. There may be a slight tendency to distinguish depending on syntax (or degree of formality):

    The sale of cheese declined 10% over a comparable period of the previous year (first syllable).
    This is a completely different product; it's just not comparable (second syllable?) to the other.
     

    akelas

    Senior Member
    Spanish, from Spain
    Thank you all very much.
    However, what beats me is how can a word be pronounced differently, and also be accepted by dictionaries.
    In Spanish, "comparable" (by the way, written exactly as in English) can only be pronounced one way. /komparáble/.
    Absolutely no one would pronounced it /kómparable/ or /komparablé/ or whatever other version, no matter where the speaker is from, Spain, Colombia, México.
    I don't know, perhaps the Spanish language is much more consistent when it comes to pronouncing common words. Might have something to do with the Spanish language having a royal academy of letters "Real academia de las letras" that governing body of the language that pretty much says what's right and what's not, like the academie française.
    Since English doesn't have that institution, pretty much anything goes? :confused:
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Since English doesn't have that institution, pretty much anything goes? :confused:
    No. Third or fourth syllable stress of English "comparable" does not "go".

    You need to bear in mind that there is a tension in English between the original, Germanic, stress system, and the very different stress system that came with the words English inherited from French.
     

    Aviador

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Chile
    I have heard that when they say it with stress on the first syllable, they tend to drop the a on the second syllable with which it sounds /'komprabl/.

    ... I don't know, perhaps the Spanish language is much more consistent when it comes to pronouncing common words. Might have something to do with the Spanish language having a royal academy of letters "Real academia de las letras" that governing body of the language that pretty much says what's right and what's not, like the academie française.
    Since English doesn't have that institution, pretty much anything goes? :confused:
    Maybe. Two of those guidelines by linguistic authorities like the RAE are the rule of syllabic separation and the rule of written accent that make pronouncing a word like comparable so consistent all over the Spanish-Speaking world, even if you read it for the first time and you never heard somebody pronounce it before. As you say, seeing that word written automatically tells you where to put the stress.
     

    duvija

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Remember English has the famous 'stress class avoidance'. If the word before 'comparable' is stressed on the last syllable, automatically native English speakers will shift the stress one syllable forward. Spanish has the same rule (it's not a rule, it's just a result) but not so strong.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Remember English has the famous 'stress class avoidance'. If the word before 'comparable' is stressed on the last syllable, automatically native English speakers will shift the stress one syllable forward. Spanish has the same rule (it's not a rule, it's just a result) but not so strong.
    I think you mean "stress clash avoidance."
     

    Rocko!

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    :D cÓm-pÁrable, tal vez.

    Yo sigo desde hace tiempo a Christian en "Canguro English", en Youtube, porque me parece un maestrazo divertido (de hecho, no veo ningún material en inglés australiano, excepto los de él).

    Allí, él explica lo que aquí ya mencionaron, que las palabras largas pueden tener el acento en diferente parte dependiendo de su posición dentro de una oración. Por ejemplo, él contrasta las siguientes oraciones:

    Actually, she's Japanése
    A panese ship owner
    I thought shé was Japanese

    Por si te interesa verlo, el título del video es The ultimate English pronunciation guide, y el minuto exacto es 06:51.
    Saludos.
     
    Last edited:

    aldonzalorenzo

    Senior Member
    Castellano
    Remember English has the famous 'stress clash avoidance'. If the word before 'comparable' is stressed on the last syllable, automatically native English speakers will shift the stress one syllable forward. Spanish has the same rule (it's not a rule, it's just a result) but not so strong.
    Good to know, thanks.
    And so good to see you!
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Remember English has the famous 'stress class avoidance'. If the word before 'comparable' is stressed on the last syllable, automatically native English speakers will shift the stress one syllable forward. Spanish has the same rule (it's not a rule, it's just a result) but not so strong.
    I'm afraid stress clash avoidance does not apply to this particular word.

    Comparable is a learned Latin word. Though we got it from French, the English pronunciation was meant to imitate Classical Latin, with the stress on the first syllable, like the word separable. And there is no secondary stress on -par- or on -a-.

    The pronunciation with stress on the second syllable is derived by adding the suffix -able to the English verb compare.

    The pronunciation a particular person uses for comparable depends on two things: (1) whether that person learned the pronunciation from hearing it or through reading, and sometimes (2) whether it is being used with a meaning that seems unconnected to, or a step removed from, the verb compare.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    I agree that stress clash avoidance doesn’t apply to this word: I don't hear people changing their pronunciation of comparable based on the situation. It’s more personal preference. For me, the stress is on the first syllable, and I don’t hear speakers of my dialect stress the second syllable. I wonder if that pronunciation is a BE thing.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I always say comPÁrable with no exception, but I have heard CÓMprable before. I can't make a judgement on which is more correct...
    I do say SÉPrable (separable) though


    Moderator's note
    Off-topic comment deleted.
    Bevj
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    But beyond the reasons you explained, which I understand and I think make sense, I still can't help, being a native spaniard, seeing things from the strict spanish phonetic system, where a word, any given word, will always be pronounced one and only one "correct" way.
    As if English pronunciation wasn't inconsistent enough already, not to mention whimsical and devoid of sense at times, now it turns out that the same word, can be pronounced two ways! :confused: To the point where you resort to the oficial well credited sources, dictionaries as Oxford's, Cambridge,webster's or Word Reference, and when you play the audio, the sound doesn't match the phonetic trascription. :mad:
    Again, from a spanish perspective, I find this exasperating sometimes.
    Pero tampoco es tan raro en inglés. Hay más casos:
    adult
     
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