pronunciation: fairy / ferry (AmE)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stephenlearner, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. stephenlearner Senior Member

    Chinese
    Hi,

    Do you pronounce fairy and ferry the same in AmE?
    I listened to WR audio. They sound the same to me.

    Thanks.
     
  2. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    They sound the same to me when I say them.
     
  3. RedwoodGrove

    RedwoodGrove Senior Member

    Northern California
    English, USA
    There are undoubtedly certain accents in AE (possibly regional New England) where they are pronounced differently, but you're safe in pronouncing them the same. :thumbsup:
     
  4. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    Interesting. They're pronounced differently in BE.
     
  5. stephenlearner Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you.

    In AmE, is the first vowel in fairy [eɪ], the vowel in gate?
     
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    :thumbsup:
    "I'm going to meet the ferry from France." and "I'm going to meet the fairy from France." should not be confused. :D
     
  7. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    No.

    Fairy rhymes with very which sounds identical to vary.

    Gate rhymes with wait.
     
  8. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    pronunciation: Will Merry marry Mary? There are some for whom those are all the same.
    For me, Mary rhymes with fairy but merry and marry are two more sounds which rhyme with neither.
     
  9. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I have the full marry/merry/Mary merger -- all three of those words rhyme with both ferry and fairy. (I use the "Mary" vowel.)
     
  10. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Me, too.
     
  11. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Could you please tell me what vowel is that?
    Is it the one in the word "very"? Does your "Mary" rhyme with "very"?
     
  12. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Mine does. Does everyone agree on the pronunciation of "very", though?
     
  13. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Thank you.
    So you pronounce marry, merry, Mary, vary, fairy, scarey, carry, berry and the like with the same vowel as in "very"?
     
  14. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Yes, I think that's quite common in the U.S.

    dairy, wary, merry, terry, Harry, hairy all rhyme with very for me.
     
  15. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Thank you very much for your answer.:)
     
  16. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Since nobody has thought to define the actual sounds, can I venture:
    AMERICAN: ferry = marry = fairy = Mary means they all rhyme with /feri:/ or with /feəri:/.
    BRITISH: ferry = /feri:/. Marry = mæri:/. fairy = /feəri:/.​
     
  17. Truffula

    Truffula Senior Member

    English - USA
    I think it's ɛ not e in American pronunciation. See Could you clarify /e/ and /ɛ/? for explanation of the difference. Apparently (most?) Americans hear e as merged with eɪ (I think I do, except when I'm listening to Spanish).
     
  18. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I certainly do not, and there is no such thing as a single "American English" way of saying anything.

    In a survey of American dialects, 11,422 respondents from across the country were asked " How do you pronounce Mary/merry/marry?" (Note: regardless of your accent, "Mary" and "fairy" have the same sound, however y ou say them, and "merry" and "ferry" have the same sound.)

    Here are the results:
    a. all 3 are the same (56.88%)
    b. all 3 are different (17.34%)
    c. Mary and merry are the same; marry is different (8.97%)
    d. merry and marry are the same; Mary is different (0.96%)
    e. Mary and marry are the same; merry is different (15.84%)

    The question, then, is "which US accent do you want?" If you want to sound like someone from Boston, or New York, or Philadelphia, then do not use the same vowels in "fairy" and "ferry." On the other hand, if you want to sound like someone from Los Angeles or Seattle, then go ahead.
     
  19. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    And so if you have a merged pronunciation, have you got a short vowel or a long vowel? Or is this different from different speakers with the merged pronunciation?

    For me, merry and marry have different short vowels, whereas Mary has a long vowel. (I have the vowels of met, mat and mare respectively.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  20. Truffula

    Truffula Senior Member

    English - USA
    Wikipedia says: In accents that do not have the merger, Mary has the a sound of mare, marry has the "short a" sound of mat, and merry has the "short e" sound of met. In modern RP, they are pronounced as [ˈmɛːɹi], [ˈmæɹi], and [ˈmɛɹi]; in Australian English as [ˈmeːɹi], [ˈmæɹi], and [ˈmeɹi]; in New Zealand English as [ˈmi̞əɹi], [ˈmɛɹi], and [ˈme̝ɹi]; in New York City English as [ˈmeɹi⁓ˈmɛəɹi], [ˈmæɹi], and [ˈmɛɹi]; in Philadelphia English, the same as New York except merry is [ˈmɛɹi⁓ˈmʌɹi]. There is plenty of variance in the distribution of the merger, with expatriate communities of these speakers being formed all over the country. The most common phonetic value of the merged vowel is [ɛ], so that, for example, Mary, marry, and merry for many Americans all become merged as [ˈmɛɹi].

    I'm one of the latter (all merged with the ɛ vowel).
     
  21. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Many thanks! And so your Mary, marry and merry would (to me) sound like merry.
     
  22. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
  23. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    My merry, marry and Mary are all the same (to me). But when I listen to the UK version of the word "merry" in the WR dictionary that does not sound like what I'm saying. If you listen to US merry and UK merry, they're different. Do you hear merry like UK merry? My merry, marry and Mary sound like US merry.
     
  24. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I've listened to the WR Dictionary (merry - WordReference.com Dictionary of English) audio files of merry. You're right. The US merry sounds different from the UK merry (which sounds like how I say it). In fact, it sounds like how I say Mary, but shorter. And so the US merged vowel is different from my three!
     
  25. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Thanks for checking and comparing. My impression is that I pronounce the m*ry's like mare-y (i.e. horse-like :)). I'm not too surprised that it sounds somewhat like your Mary.
     
  26. Truffula

    Truffula Senior Member

    English - USA
    The pronouncer at Merriam-webster says "merry" more like how I say all three: Definition of MERRY
    Is that one more like yours, natkretep?

    Also: I have been sharing this question with someone (US native from the Southwest) and she pronounces Mary, merry and marry all differently (similiarly to Natkretep actually) BUT she pronounces fairy like ferry (to rhyme with her version of "merry"). By the way, I can't hear the difference at all between how she says "merry" and "marry" and also I can barely hear the difference with "Mary" - she says the difference is that the "y" sounds more like long a (eɪ) than like long e (iː). So she's saying /mɛri:/ (merry), /mæri:/ (marry), and /mæreɪ/ (Mary)!

    And for me the ɛr and ær have completely merged (æ and ɛ are distinct but when followed by an r they don't sound different - same phoneme even if different sounds, I probably say both interchangeably and don't even notice)!

    GWB note: at least one person doesn't rhyme Mary and fairy. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  27. stephenlearner Senior Member

    Chinese
    The IPA transcription for fairy is [ˈfɛərɪ]. Do American native speakers pronounce fairy like what the IPA transcription shows?

    I don't think so. I can't hear the schwa in the audio file in the WR dictionary.
     
  28. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Kentix, could you please reply to one more question?

    Do you pronounce the words "character", "embarrassed" and all the other words that have [ɛə] and [æ] followed by an [r] with the same vowel as in "very" too?
     
  29. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    As far as I can tell, yes.
     
  30. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    I appreciate your reply.:)
     
  31. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    (In my version of British English these are quite distinct: /'kærəktə/ and /im'bærəst/. Nothing at all like /'veri:/.)
     
  32. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Bear, bare, berry, embarrassed, barrel, beryl...all the same.
     
  33. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    And bury!
     
  34. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think that is a more old fashioned British pronunciation. These days, you can hear [fɛːri] with a long vowel instead.

    The difference between fairy and ferry in some BrE accents is not the quality of the vowel but its length.
     
  35. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Thanks a lot, everyone.:)
     
  36. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    I agree. My accent is Standard Southern British and I say:

    Fairy : /ˈfɛːri/

    Ferry: /ˈfɛri/
     
  37. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    On television the other day an American preacher grinned as he said "I marry ya - then I bury ya!":D. His vowels rhymed.
     

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