Discussion in 'English Only' started by ConorBieber, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. ConorBieber Member

    Brazilian Portuguese
    How is this word pronounce please?
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I think it depends on the person's accent. I speak American English and would say it to rhyme with "jam". It's essentially "mam" in pronunciation. (The "a'a" is not pronounced any differently from a single "a".)
  3. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    I probably have the same American accent as Mr. M. I would rhyme "ma'am" with "ham" and "lamb," although I might "flatten" the "a" more than Mr. M (if he grew up in California). I don't know what the symbol is for my upstate New York "flat a," which isn't as pronounced as that of some people from the area.

    A Southern US pronunciation of "ma'am" is more like MAY-umm.

    British speakers will probably report a different vowel. I wouldn't even guess what Australians would do with it.
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Northern English would be the same as the Americans, as this is the older vowel, but southern (and RP) speakers would have [a:] (rhyming with farm).
    There would be a length difference in Northern English though, as we don't really rhyme it with jam, it's a bit longer, but not as long as Southern English.
    The shorter version would mean "mum/mother" if it rhymed with jam. This word has suffered quite a lot of phonetic decay since its original Latin mea domina.
  5. oDnB Senior Member

    People in the south of England, the well-off, Queen's English type would extended the a sound, rhyming with "faarm"
  6. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    Southern English people don't pronounce the "r" in "farm," do they? In AE, "ma'am" would not rhyme with "farm" at all, even in regions where r's are dropped. (The people who would say "faahm" would, I think, say "MAY-um"; no "r" in either, but they wouldn't rhyme, either.)
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    No they don't, at least not in the main areas of the south and certainly not in London. When I wrote "farm", it was just the orthographic representation of [fa:m].
    But that other pronunciation is familiar from American TV, would you say that's for the majority of America or would anyone (who doesn't use r) pronounce it like us Northerns?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  8. I pronounce it mam, and I keep reading that people meeting the queen are told to address her thus.

  9. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    With a long vowel or a short vowel?
    To rhyme with jam / bam? To avoid IPA I'd pronounce it like "mahm", with a longer vowel than jam, but still nothing like the southerners (which I would write as maaaahm).
    It's so hard to describe witohut using IPA or recordings, because your understanding of what I am writing could potentially be very different from what I am trying to put accross.
  10. In received BrE it is pronounced "mahm", i.e. with a long -a-; as in "arm" but with an unpronounced -r-.

    The exception, apparently, is when using it to address H. M. the Queen, when it is pronounce "Mum".
  11. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    But in RP there is no [r] in 'arm', it's just [a:m]. (Pronunciation: /ɑːm/ (taken from OED))
    Eh? Really?? Never heard that before.
  12. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Only on the second and subsequent times. The first time you speak to ER, it's "Your Royal Highness." As I understand this, the counter resets on your next visit.

    (While I'm a Yank, my mother was born in England. She made sure her children were properly educated in the important things, like this.)
  13. Yes - short.
  14. airportzombie

    airportzombie Senior Member

    English - CaE/AmE
    There's the term schoolmarm that shows the farm-rhyming pronunciation.

    Tsk, tsk! It's "Your Majesty".
  15. Which is why I said "... but with an unpronounced -r-". :D
  16. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Excuse me! Sorry, I understand exactly what you mean, now.
    I thought you implied in RP there was an [ɹ] in "arm". Sorry for misunderstanding!

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