Pronunciation: nephew

How do you pronounce "ph" in the word "nephew"?

  • As [v]

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • As [f]

    Votes: 22 95.7%

  • Total voters
    23

Cecilio

Senior Member
Spanish, Valencian/Catalan
I always thought the consonant in the middle of word "nephew" was pronounced as [v], but it seems that nowadays a pronunciation like [f] is more common. Is it the same in the USA and in Britain? Is the old pronunciation [v] disappearing?
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I didn't know it used to have a "v" pronunciation. If so - it's probably a case of literacy influencing pronunciation - such as the reappearence in speech for many people of the "t" in "often" (once pronounced "offen" now it's often "off - ten".
     

    Tatzingo

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I've not known a period of time before what you have described as "nowadays" and as such, the "Ph" sound has and always is "f". This is true not just in the word "nephew" but also in many other "ph" words such as telePHone, PHysical.. etc. Always F, never V.

    atz.
     

    Operatic

    Member
    English - England
    I pronounce it with an 'f'. My parents pronounce it with a 'v'. They will be the last generation to do so (well at least until it changes again!).

    Operatic
     

    Cecilio

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Valencian/Catalan
    It looks like the pronunciation with [v] is the original one. It is definitely the one I was taught when I started learning English many years ago. The question is: Are there still many people who pronounce "nephew" the old way?
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Daniel Jones's "English Pronouncing Dictionary" gives v first, and f as a variant.

    My foreign language-English dictionaries all have v only.

    My Macquarie Dictionary [Australian] has f first, and v second.
    My Collins has v first, f second.
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    So, I'm guessing that mostly those with foreign language English dictionaries pronounce it with a v?

    I've never heard it pronounced or proposed to be pronounced with a v instead of an f.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I voted for "f" but my pronunciation wasn't an option. I pronounce the word as neff-hew.
    Does nobody else pronounce the 'h'?
     

    BoldLowe

    New Member
    English - USA
    For me, definitely "F" (voiceless) as in Philadelphia. I can think of no word in American English where it is pronounced "V" (voiced). Perhaps, in some dialects it has been mispronounced and then adopted as a variant. Non-native English teachers sometimes get confused.

    BTW, Maxio, I don't emphasize the "H" but, since you are saying a voiceless "F" the air could make it sound like an "H"
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, the original pronunciation is with /v/. The word is from French neveu, and was spelt with an <f> or a <v> in Middle English. (Words spelt with /f/ could be pronounced with /v/ - in Old English /f/ and /v/ were not heard as different sounds. Our word of is pronounced /ɒv/ or /əv/.)

    The /f/ pronunciation has overtaken the /v/ pronunciation.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I've always thought of the v pronunciation as characteristic of the south of England.
    As I hear it nowadays, this pronuncation is also used by "posh" people. For example, I would be pretty certain that it is used by our present Prime Minister and people of that kind, including the Queen.
     
    Last edited:

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Brioche.
    That's strange. The 15th edition of Daniel Jones's EPD (published in 1997) gives:
    /...f.../, /...v.../ US /...f.../, in this order.
    Best.
    GS
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    You'd hear Stephen with /f/ in Scotland.

    I've never heard Stephen pronounced with an /f/ in my entire life, in Scotland or anywhere else.

    As for 'nephew', all of the people I know who pronounce it 'nevyoo' are over 50, but it's pretty common nevertheless.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    We have a thread on Stephen here. The version that I've heard is from an older Scottish woman who called her son /ˈstiːfn/. The father, from Southampton, uses the /v/ version. Stephen himself used the /v/ version. Some other older Scottish speakers used /f/, so I'm sure it wasn't idiosyncratic.
     
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