pronunciation of amenable [uh-MEE-nuh-buhl, uh-MEN-uh-buhl]

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi there,

I heard "amenable" pronounced in the movie Atonement, and am wondering about it. They said [uh-MEE-nuh-buhl]. (One girl says to 2 twin boys: "We're guests in this house. And what did the parents say we were to make ourselves?" To which the twins respond, "Amenable.")

I don't think I've heard this word before, although I've thought of it often:). I've always pronounced it [uh-MEN-uh-buhl] in my head. How do you pronounce it?:)

The Dictionary.com dictionary, based on the Random House Dictionary, gives both [uh-MEE-nuh-buhl] and [uh-MEN-uh-buhl]. Collins gives only the variant with MEE.

Thanks!
 
  • susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    It's actually such a useful word though, isn't it? With great etymology behind it.
    Edit. Thank you, cyberpedant and pob14, as well. pob14: great point :)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Oh, don't mention etymology. I think I originally used to pronounce it with [men], then decided that as it came from Latin amoen- "pleasant", like amenity, and as I reduce diphthongs like oe to the long vowel [i:], not short [e] - which is why I say ecological with [i:], for example - I should switch to [i:]. Years later I noticed that it doesn't come from amoen- at all and therefore isn't related to amenity. But I've stuck with the long vowel.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hi entangledbank, that's a nice story. It gets even more confusing here in Romania(n), when words are borrowed from other modern languages and we tend to spell them as if they came directly from Latin.:) One of them is antechamber/antichamber. Romanian has opted for the anti- variant because it has borrowed the word from Italian. Many users, however, think they should be using the variant with ante-.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I'm sure relying on ancient pronunciations (and spellings) is related to this from Wiki:
    The etymological fallacy is a genetic fallacy that holds, erroneously, that the historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning. This is a linguistic misconception, mistakenly identifying a word's current semantic field with its etymology. An argument only constitutes an etymological fallacy if it makes a claim about the present meaning of a word based exclusively on its etymology, thus distinguishing an alleged "true" (etymological) meaning from the workaday use.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I pronounce it [əˈmiːnəbl]. I note that the pronunciation I use is the only one shown in the Collins Spanish-English Dictionary, which was published in the UK (but I don't base my pronunciation on what this dictionary says; I have been using this pronunciation since long before I acquired the dictionary).
     
    Last edited:

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This one might have a correlation with location. Obviously both forms exist but one might be preferred in AmE and the other in BrE - I say mean and don't recall hearing men until I moved to N. America.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Right. Based on our little sample here, it does seem that MEN is preferred in the US and MEEN in the UK. Thanks, JulianStuart; thank you all!
     
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