English pronunciation (double consonant) argument

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Flucky, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Flucky New Member

    Hello folks,

    it's basically to do with how you pronounce words when there are 2 consonants together, I'm having a hard time thinking how to explain this but:

    'regretted' is pronounced 'regr-eh-tted' because of the two 't's. If it had one 't' it would be
    'regreted' which would be pronounced 'regr-E-ted'.

    'floppy' is pronounced 'fl-o-ppy' whereas
    'flopy' would be pronounced 'fl-O-py'

    'shipping' is pronounced 'sh-ih-pping' whereas
    'shiping' would be pronounced 'sh-eye-ping'.

    it's as if the two consonants at the end shorten the sound of the vowel before them.

    If anyone has any idea what I'm trying to explain, do you know if there is a rule that states this?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
  3. Flucky New Member

    Hi wandle thanks for replying.

    Do you possibly have a name or a link explaining this in detail? I have a stubborn friend I am trying to convince.
  4. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    Here's a link that goes into great detail on how different combinations of vowels and consonants affect vowel length http://www.multimedia-english.com/phonetics/pronouncing_vowels.php
    It focuses on the idea of 'closed' and 'open' syllables, rather than double consonants per se, so it's maybe a bit more involved than what you're after, but it does cover double consonants.
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    I've had a quick look via Google, but this rule is so elementary, I haven't been able to find a page which thinks it worth saying.
    Here are a few pairs:
    There are many more.
  6. Flucky New Member

    Much appreciated both
  7. Flucky New Member

    Sorry to ask another thing related.

    Is all of the above a 'rule' and are there any cases where the above doesn't apply?

    Again, thanks in advance.
  8. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    First, for cases such as the pairs listed above, it is safe to say that the doubling of the consonant shortens the vowel.
    Secondly, I cannot think of any cases where the vowel preceding a doubled consonant is long.
    On the other hand, there are cases where a vowel preceding two different consonants is long. This is noticeable at least in RP English, where the 'a' in 'command', 'remand', 'demand', 'grant', 'plant' etc is long (rhyming with 'ah'). However in northern English these examples have a short 'a'.
  9. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    In U.S. schools, a "long" vowel is one that "says its name," so that's what most Americans would mean and think of when discussing "long" and "short" vowels. The "long" vowels are all considered by linguists to be "diphthongs." Whether a vowel is "long" or "short" doesn't have anything to do with the amount of time spent enunciating it. Thus, the vowel in "plant" is "short" whether one says plant or plaaaaaaant. "plaint" has a "long a" as its only vowel.

    The prototypical spelling for a "long" vowel is the pattern <vowel letter><consonant letter><silent e>. In another word that is distinguished only by a "short" instead of a "long" vowel, the following consonant is usually represented by a single letter, unless it would be "c" or "k," in which case both are used. If the word in question is a verb, then the consonant is "doubled" after a short vowel before adding an ending such as -ing or -ed. That's because the final "e" marker for a long vowel is removed (although it is then replaced if the ending added is "-ed"). Thus . . .

    mate, mated/mat, matted
    site, siting/sit, sitting
    poke, poked/pack, packed (final "k" consonant already doubled in uninflected form)

    If the "long" vowel is not indicated by a final e, but is followed by a single consonant letter, that letter is kept; if there is another verb word that differs only by the vowel being "short," the single final consonant letter is again doubled to show the difference:

    beat ("long e" sound in U.S. schools regardless of what the linguists call it), beating/bet, betting ("short e" in U.S. schools), likewise
    seat, seating/set, setting
    cute, *cuting/cut, cutting (if "cute" were a verb, we would spelling the past participle "cuting"; I can't think of a verb pair distinguished only by a "long u" vs. a "short u")
    puke, puked/puck, pucked (final "k" already doubled with a "c" after "short" vowel)
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  10. mplsray Senior Member

    abusing (s pronounced /z/) but busing (s pronounced /s/)--transporting by bus, the spelling bussing for this verb being rare nowadays, at least in American English
    aping but kidnaping (more likely to be spelled kidnapping in American English)
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I can only think of a few cases where a doubled consonant doesn't imply a preceding "short" vowel, and those all involve double-l (scrolled, patrolled).

    But there are quite a few cases where a vowel followed by a single consonant and another vowel is short. When we add a suffix to a word ending in a non-stressed vowel+single consonant, we don't double the consonant (except - in BrE - where the consonant is an "l"): so fit > fitted, but profit > profited.

    And then there's robin vs robbing [and robing]; cabin vs cabbage ....
  12. aprendiendo argento

    aprendiendo argento Senior Member

    Premantura - Croatia
    Croatian (Chakavian)
    gallop galloped
    no ones pronounces it as: gal-lope-d even though it's not spelled gallopped.
    worshipped or worshiped (even though it has no [ei] sound in it)
    parallel paralleled (never parallelled, even though the preceding vowel is short)
    federal federalism (never federallism, even though the preceding vowel is short)

    crystalline, crystallize/crystallise

    In grammars, the rule is simple (2-3 sentences).
    But after that, they always list you 3-4 pages of exceptions to the rule.
    (In US English you can see both canceled, and cancelled, but you can't see snorkelling, only snorkeling :D: Our snorkeling trip was cancelled.:)
    So, it's word-dependent).

    Reading (in Berkshire) pronounced like Redding (in California).
    The whole issue is complicated because there are orthographic, phonological and phonetic, (both historical and actual) long and short vowels (stressed or unstressed; plus diphthongs).
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  13. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    If anyone is interested in the history of this, look at the wikipedia entry on Ormulum, a 12th-century work by the monk Orm:

    Our present-day rules about doubling also take into account stress. And there are exceptions; <l> almost always gets doubled in BrE - I would write travelling, snorkelling and carolling.
  14. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Flucky, I think your original question could be better expressed.

    The question isn't really "how you pronounce words when there are 2 consonants together", but rather "how you spell words when there is a long or short vowel?". The problem is that we're so used to the written word, nowadays, that we've forgotten that the basic form of a language is speech, and spelling is only a secondary form. In English, where we have many more than 26 sounds, we have to use these gimmicks like double consonants to make up for letters that don't exist in the alphabet.

    Thank goodness that people like Orm did much of this work for us!
  15. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    If anyone isn't yet totally confused about English pronunciation, here is something to complete the job.:)
  16. dgm123 New Member

    Of course there are exceptions. :-( The one that always confused me as a child was: desert/dessert.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013

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