pronunciation: either [variation in individuals]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by scrotgrot, May 28, 2011.

  1. scrotgrot Senior Member

    English - English
    There are two pronunciations for this:
    1. /aɪðə/ and 2. /iːðə/.

    In "I don't know which is correct either", I'd say 1, never 2.
    In "either one of them may be correct", I'd say 2, sometimes 1.

    Does anyone else show syntactic variation?
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I hear both pronunciations here in the U.S., Scrotgrot. I think "ai thur" is more common in my part of the world.
  3. scrotgrot Senior Member

    English - English
    Thanks, any other contributions? I think it's very interesting that a word should vary phonetically depending on the way it's being used. Or is it just something I do?
  4. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't vary the pronunciation in my own speech, although of course I hear both. I use the first one consistently.
  5. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    I would pronounce it "ee thur" in both of your sentences, although I could use the "ai thur" pronunciation for your first sentence.
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  6. boozer Senior Member

    So do I.

    If I heard the second one /iːðə/ from a BE speaker I would be a bit taken aback because it uses the AE /i:/ but there is no /r/ at the end - a non-rhotic BE feature.

    The world is much simpler if one knows that /aɪðə/ is BE and /iːðə/ - AE. :D
  7. scrotgrot Senior Member

    English - English
    I didn't know that! BrE who use /i:/ have doubtless been influenced by AmE media. This possibly provides an explanation for my variation.

    Either one at the start of a phrase has a lot of stress and meaning on it. Either at the end of a phrase is more an afterthought, a clause surplus to requirements.

    Maybe when paying more attention to either I'm apt to use the AmE because I've heard it in a broadcast medium so therefore think it's more "correct"?

    (By the way there's plenty of rhotic accents on our wondrous island, there is a lot of accent variation here given size.)
  8. boozer Senior Member

    I did not mean to suggest that, but I myself find it very likely. :)

    PS. By the way, Daniel Jones listed your /iːðə/ version in his Everyman's Pronouncing Dictionary back in 1987, so I cannot be sure there's only the AE influence. I suppose it will turn out to be more complicated than that. There goes my simple world! :)
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  9. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    My pronunciation of "either" does not vary. I always poduce 1).
  10. Merrit Senior Member

    I have never been aware of any syntactic or other difference between them, and I use both pronunciations.

    As far as I can tell, the main factor which influences my choice is a wish to contrast with the sound of the previous word.

    e.g. It has been "ai thur" cold or wet for the last week
    e.g. Why "ee thur" Tom or Joe would do that is unknown.

  11. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    Yes, I think I do, along the same lines as you. I read the topic and thought about it without reading the detailed content of your post. However, when I use 'neither' I suspect I say n-I-thu far more than n-ee-thu.

  12. Guybrush_Threepwood Member

    Hi all!

    I have always pronounced "either" like /aɪðə/ till this night when I listened to David Letterman pronouncing it as something like /ɪ:ðə/.

    I supposed /ɪ:ðə/ to be the US pronunciation, but both US and UK pronunciation provided by sounds like /ɪ:ðə/, whereas google translate pronunciation sounds like /aɪðə/.

    I suppose they are both correct. Is /ɪ:ðə/ more common than /aɪðə/?

    Sorry for my English. ;)

    << This thread has been merged with an earlier thread. >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2013
  13. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Both are used in AmE. In fact, in some cases, both are used by the same AmE speaker - me, for example. I mostly use the long-e version, but the long-i version pops out of my mouth from time to time as well. There is no pattern to it as far as I know.
  14. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    I do the very same. :) One of the few words that I pronounce both ways, without rhyme or reason. :) I just say it however "the mood" strikes me. :)
  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
  16. Guybrush_Threepwood Member

    How could I have missed it? I didn't find anything about this using the search engine.

    So I can use... either.

    Thank you all! :)
  17. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Moderator's note:

    I have merged this thread with an earlier thread on the same topic. Please read from the top.

    I did not merge it with the thread linked to above, because that thread seems sufficiently long as it is. :)
    However that thread is very useful, and I suggest people interested in the topic read it.

    (We find these threads by entering the important words in the search box at the top of the page, for instance pronunciation either. The threads with those words in the title appear below the definition. ;))
  18. Guybrush_Threepwood Member

    Thank you Cagey!

    I'm sure I entered exactly those words. I realize now I probably searched in the wrong forum (English-Italian).
  19. estoy_lerniendo Senior Member

    English - U.S. (Midwest)
    Almost a year later...

    [i:]ther and [aI]ther or [ni:]ther and [naI]ther seem pretty interchangeable to me, but I can think of one example in which I know that I would never say [naI]ther.

    The phrase "Me [naI]ther." = :thumbsdown:
    The phrase "Me [ni:]ther." = :thumbsup:


    (I kind of feel like a pirate when I say "Me [naI]ther.")

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