Mall (pronunciation)

Keith Bradford

Senior Member
English (Midlands UK)
The pronunciation of "mall" was raised on another forum by KateBF, talking about the "listen to" function on the WRDictionary.

I listened, and I agree with her that the US version is more like "mail" and the UK version sounds like "maul". Two streets in London, the Mall and Pall Mall, have been pronounced /mæl/ to rhyme with gal, Hal and pal for as long as I can remember, at least in my dialect.

I know there is an odd upper-class dialect pronunciation of Pall Mall as "Paul Maul" but I don't think it applies to the everyday "shopping mall". Does it?

(Have you the ability to amend the recorded pronunciations anyway?)
 
  • Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    It does. We do pronounce 'shopping mall' as maul in the UK. My local shopping precinct was renamed The xxxx Mall many years ago and it has always been maul. As far as I know, Pall Mall is the exception: pal mal is normal, while paul maul sounds pretentious.

    The UK pronunciations are correct, as is the Southern US one. But the "standard" US sound clip is very obviously wrong: they've put the pronunciation of 'mail' there by mistake.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    OK, I've learned something, so far as Southern English is concerned anyway.

    I would never call, say, the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton a "mall" in any case -- for me it's a shopping precinct and always will be! (But then, I still miss the Central Arcade, destroyed by fire in 1974.)
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    In keeping with the UK pronunciation, one can allude to the following comment:

    "When you've seen one shopping precinct, you've seen 'em all".

    (Works better aurally, obviously ...)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    @WordyMcWordface, I'm confused.
    • In #2 you say "We do pronounce 'shopping mall' as maul in the UK."
    • In #9 you say "The Mall and Pall Mall in London, as well as the game 'pall mall' which gave these streets their name, are pronounced "mal"."
    Not having lived in the UK for 30 years I'm prepared to be guided by you, but in which direction? For the record both I (born in Wolverhampton) and my wife (from Dorset) say mal /mæl/ whether it's preceded by The, Pall or shopping.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    • In #2 you say "We do pronounce 'shopping mall' as maul in the UK."
    :tick: 'Mall' as a common noun (a large building with shops and restaurants) usually rhymes with 'small' and 'call' in BrE.

    For example, this is from the Cambridge dictionary, in line with the WRF dictionary:
    uk /mɔːl/
    mall


    Meanwhile other dictionaries also add the alternative pronunciation that you and Ewie use. For example, this is from Macmillan:
    UK /mɔːl/ UK /mæl/
    MALL (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary



    • In #9 you say "The Mall and Pall Mall in London, as well as the game 'pall mall' which gave these streets their name, are pronounced "mal"."
    :tick:Yes, these are place names. And as I said in #2, these are the exceptions, as old place names very often are. The Mall and Pall Mall in central London have been pronounced /mæl/ = mal and /pæl mæl/ - pal mal since the 17th century, I believe.

    Not having lived in the UK for 30 years I'm prepared to be guided by you, but in which direction?
    For the record both I (born in Wolverhampton) and my wife (from Dorset) say mal /mæl/ whether it's preceded by The, Pall or shopping.
    Then carry on saying mal in all cases. Be guided by the Macmillan dictionary, which gives both pronunciations.
     
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