pronunciation: crayon

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stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

How do you pronounce crayon? The IPA shows ['kreɪən], which means the last syllable rhymes with that of bacon.
But interestingly, when I listened to the audio clips, I found all sounded differently, with the last syllable rhyming with dawn.

I wonder why.

Can anyone explain to me?

Thanks.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Can anyone explain to me?
    1. It will depend on the accent of the speaker, although I have never heard a pronunciation of crayon or bacon that is similar to 'dawn'.
    2. bacon, dawn, and crayon to me have completely different endings, although, bacon and crayon are very close.
    3. In the way that a musician can distinguish between two notes that to me sound identical, so the native speaker hears subtly different sounds as distinct, whereas the student does not. It seems that the student's brain is interpreting the sound to the nearest known sound. (The corollary of this is that students usually have a non-native accent. This is caused by the brain manufacturing sounds that use vowel sounds from their native language to approximate the English (or other foreign language) vowel sounds.
    4. IPA is good, but not perfect.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'm astonished at all those BE audio clips. The Jamaican accent is the only one which approximates to what I've always taken as the norm, where crayon rhymes with Malayan. I accept that in the US the final syllable is stressed, but in BE it's not, and so one would expect /kreɪ'ən/. This is what Collins places first, before the /-ɒn/ version, but nobody on the clips pronounces it that way. :confused:
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm astonished at all those BE audio clips. … I accept that in the US the final syllable as stressed, but in BE it's not
    I agree. I really don’t think most Brits say crayon with quite such a distinctive emphasis on the second syllable. I think the problem is that when a single word is deliberately pronounced, as in these clips, it gives a false impression of how the word normally sounds in context.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    By full I mean it has a stressable vowel: the 'on' of /ˈkreɪ.ɒn/. It does not so often have the neutral (unstressable) vowel of /'kreɪ.ən/.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm as astonished as Keith Bradford. Most of the versions to be heard on our dictionary page sound quite like the name of Antigone's old adversary, Creon. I use a schwa.

    I imagine those people who say "ac-tor" also say "cray-on".
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The Jamaican accent is the only one which approximates to what I've always taken as the norm, where crayon rhymes with Malayan.
    Keith wrote in #5

    Same here. Almost the same as in 'bacon'.
    You said "almost the same". To me, that is not identical.

    So, to you, crayon rhymes with Malayan, but not with bacon.

    But IPA shows that Malayan and bacon (and lion) have the same endings.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Stephen, we didn't learn to speak using IPA and dictionaries! To me the '-on' sounds in those words when spoken in a sentence are very much the same, so alike that it doesn't make a jot of difference. We only listen to the stressed sounds anyway, knowing instinctively what the unstressed syllables must be to make sense in context. It's the rhythm that matters.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I pronounce it "ray-on", similar to "nylon". They are more recent coinages. Crayon is from the French, apparently - and we usually do our best not to sound too Frenchified when we poach their words, don't we?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The /ɒn/ in crayon /'kreɪɒn/ is no more stressed than it is in nylon /'nailɒn/, neon /'ni:ɒn/, rayon /'reɪɒn/ etc. etc.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with ewie's post 30.

    I don't think I've ever heard anyone say crayon with the stress on the second syllable, lingo - have you?
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French

    This map doesn't even have the "CRAY-un" version :eek: On Forvo, most people say "CRAY ON" but "CRAY-un" also exists. If you have a full vowel in "coupon", then why not in "crayon"?

    On the bottom of the page on Forvo, you can hear a full sentence with the word "crayons" in it, and one lady from the U.S (Maryland) actually pronounces it "crowns".
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    This business of stress: in #21 Heypresto says the 'big' OED gives: Brit. /ˈkreɪɒn/, /ˈkreɪən/, U.S. /ˈkreɪˌɑn/.

    It's not easy to see, but in the final word there's a small dot after the letter ɪ which indicates a secondary stress. This is what I was talking about, sorry if I confused people. This occurs in neon, rayon and nylon, but not in lion, Malayan and... crayon according to some of us.

    There you go. "It wouldn't do for us all to think the same, or there'd be no call for mixed biscuits".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This business of stress: in #21 Heypresto says the 'big' OED gives: Brit. /ˈkreɪɒn/, /ˈkreɪən/, U.S. /ˈkreɪˌɑn/.

    It's not easy to see, but in the final word there's a small dot after the letter ɪ which indicates a secondary stress. This is what I was talking about, sorry if I confused people. This occurs in neon, rayon and nylon, but not in lion, Malayan and... crayon according to some of us.

    There you go. "It wouldn't do for us all to think the same, or there'd be no call for mixed biscuits".
    Sorry, Keith, but I have to say "Hmmm" to this.

    The OED's transcription shows no secondary stress for the /ˈkreɪɒn/ pronunciation in BrE.

    I have no difficulty with your statement that the second syllable of crayon, for you, has a schwa. But I think you should beware of drawing conclusions about stress patterns from others' statements that their pronunciation doesn't.
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    I grew up pronouncing "crayon" as one syllable and rhyming with "man" (===> cran)
    even though I never lived in the geographical area indicated for this pronunciation on the map Oddmania included in his post #35.
    As an adult, I have to make a conscious effort to pronounce it as two syllables ("cray" + "on" with the stress on the first syllable, rhyming with "rayon")
    since I draw blank looks when I pronounce it "cran."

    This map doesn't even have the "CRAY-un" version :eek: On Forvo, most people say "CRAY ON" but "CRAY-un" also exists. If you have a full vowel in "coupon", then why not in "crayon"?

    On the bottom of the page on Forvo, you can hear a full sentence with the word "crayons" in it, and one lady from the U.S (Maryland) actually pronounces it "crowns".
    I have never heard "crayons" pronounced "crowns" and am having trouble detecting the yellow area(s) on the map.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    We, too, as kids, always called them crans. "Hey, pass me the red cran." Even when we went to the store and bought the fancy box with 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener in the back, by the time we got home with them and used them they were crans.

    I didn't live in the green area, but that's just the area that cran is predominant. It exists in other areas, too, as a secondary pronunciation. Today I say Crayon like rayon.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    On the bottom of the page on Forvo, you can hear a full sentence with the word "crayons" in it, and one lady from the U.S (Maryland) actually pronounces it "crowns".
    Wow, it's hard to believe until you hear it. It sounds like she is pronouncing it as if the y simply isn't there. Crah-own, which comes out sounding like crown.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There's a pale green blob in the northwest corner of Wisconsin (at least with my color rendering). If it's pale, it means even there it's not the overwhelming pronunciation.

    I don't see yellow for sure at all. Maybe there's a small spot in Maryland where the woman mentioned above is from. Or maybe it's not the majority anywhere but is mixed in with the other colors.
     
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