pronunciation of distribute

Scully8201

New Member
italiano
I'm a non native speakers and I'm very curious to know how both BrE and AmE native speakers pronounce the word "distribute", in particular, where do you put the stress? Thanks in advance!
 
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Always and forever, dis-TRIB-ute. Now, the noun is pronounced dis-tri-BYOO-shun, but that's not the first syllable either. I don't think this is a British variation either, but I've been wrong about that sort of thing before.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Not in the first syllable? I've read that this pronunciation is inreasingly heard.
    Hi Scully - welcome to the forums!

    I think you're right - that in BrE, at least, you increasingly hear the verb distribute with the accent on the first syllable.

    I think my own pronunciation wobbles: it's mainly distribute, but sometimes I'm sure I say distribute:).
    Hello,

    You can listen to the pronunciation of words in any online dictionary.

    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/distribute?q=distribute
    I see that Paul's link gives distribute as an alternative to distribute, despite the fact that both sound clips have the stress on the second syllable....
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, everyone.

    As a speaker of (a variety of) RP, I've always pronounced dis-TRIB-ute, but a rapid look at Jones's English Pronouncing Dictionary was very instructive:
    distribute, dist'tribju(t) ['distribju:t].

    Best.

    GS (still a little shocked)
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I say disTRIBute and conTRIBute. But only the other day, I told off my son for saying CONtribute. I've just looked up the Concise Oxford and see that CONtribute is listed as the second pronunciation (so maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to tell off my son).
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The current (2006) version of Jones lists both variants, interestingly with different syllable structures: di-strib-ute and dis-tri-bute.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Berndt.

    Alas, mine is an earier edition.

    The reason why Jones offers two different (phononological) syllable divisions must be the following: the general rule of English phonotactics prescribes that as many consonant phones as possible should be assigned to the right-end syllable. When this creates a syllable ending with one of the following:

    stressed "i" of "bit"
    stressed "e" of "bet"
    stressed "a" of "bat"
    stressed "u" of "but"
    stressed "o" of "not"
    stressed "u" of "good"

    then the intervocalic consonant phone is assigned to the preceding syllable.

    Best.

    GS
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think the explanation is easier: Contrary to many other languages, English syllable structure is not characterized by a strict maximum onset rule but tends to make stressed syllables as "heavy" as possible.
     

    tmalatesta

    New Member
    American English
    Keep
    Hi Scully - welcome to the forums!

    I see that Paul's link gives distribute as an alternative to distribute, despite the fact that both sound clips have the stress on the second syllable....
    Keep in mind that in dictionary pronunciation lists the first pronunciation is considered the "correct" pronunciation with alternatives which are considered "acceptable" listed in descending order.
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The verb "distribute" is pronunced as /dɪˈstrɪbjuːt/. It contains 3 syllables: dis /dɪˈs/ + tri /trɪ/ + bute /bjuːt/.

    The question is why the Longman dictionary lists it as:
    dis‧trib‧ute
    It should be dis-tri-bute, shouldn't it? :confused: Thank you :)

    dis /dɪˈs/ + tri /trɪ/ + bute /bjuːt/
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    You may find this thread interesting: English: Syllabification in Oxford dictionaries and an essay contained in a link therein https://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/syllabif.htm
    There is a lot of discussion about why/whether this is important and how it might affect the actual pronunciation. Syllable division is not determined by a law - and different authorities may view instances differently. I have never paid much attention to this aspect of a dictionary definition (as you will find as you review the thread above :))
     
    Last edited:

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You may find this thread interesting: English: Syllabification in Oxford dictionaries and an essay contained in a link therein https://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/syllabif.htm
    There is a lot of discussion about why/whether this is important and how it might affect the actual pronunciation. Sllable division is not determined by a law - and different authorities may view instances differently. I have never paid much attention to this aspect of a dictionary definition (as you will find as you review the thread above :))
    Thank you so much for your valuable information, JulianStuart :D
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    The general pattern for polysyllables is that, if possible, the stress falls on the antepenultimate (last-but-one) syllable. This can be seen most clearly in:
    • photograph
    • photographer
    • photographical
    Of course, this is a tendency and not a rule, but I'm amazed to find that people are insisting on distribute. I would instinctively have said:
    • distribute
    • distributor
    • distribution
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The question is why the Longman dictionary lists it as:
    dis‧trib‧ute
    It should be dis-tri-bute, shouldn't it? :confused: Thank you :)
    English considers the vowels to be the "syllables". When a consonant is between two vowels, we don't care whether that consonant ends a syllable or starts the next syllable. In other words we don't care which syllable it is in.

    Spoken English is a continuous stream of sounds. There is no hesitation between syllables. This is true even across the boundary between words: there is no hesitation between words.

    For example, the sound of T changes when the T is alone between 2 vowels. That change happens mid-word ("letter") but it also happens when T ends a word and the next word starts with a vowel ("let 'er").
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The general pattern for polysyllables is that, if possible, the stress falls on the antepenultimate (last-but-one) syllable. This can be seen most clearly in:
    • photograph
    • photographer
    • photographical
    Of course, this is a tendency and not a rule, but I'm amazed to find that people are insisting on distribute. I would instinctively have said:
    • distribute
    • distributor
    • distribution
    That's very useful, thank you for teaching me this (a tendency and not a rule), Keith Bradford :D

    English considers the vowels to be the "syllables". When a consonant is between two vowels, we don't care whether that consonant ends a syllable or starts the next syllable. In other words we don't care which syllable it is in.

    Spoken English is a continuous stream of sounds. There is no hesitation between syllables. This is true even across the boundary between words: there is no hesitation between words.

    For example, the sound of T changes when the T is alone between 2 vowels. That change happens mid-word ("letter") but it also happens when T ends a word and the next word starts with a vowel ("let 'er").
    I've understood :idea: Thank you so much for explaining so fully and clearly, Dojibear :D
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've heard people say distribute but they are from countries where English is an official language but not the (at least de facto) official/most common language.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The general pattern for polysyllables is that, if possible, the stress falls on the antepenultimate syllable
    Well, given the variation of stress in English, I won't start comparing lists, but it seems to me that where 3-syllable words begin with what we'd recognise as a prefix, the prefix part is generally not stressed : deliver, consider, contradict, exhibit, inhabit, and so on ( I say contribute and distribute, but it's undeniable that the antepenultimate stress in these two words is heard increasingly often).
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    I've heard people say distribute but they are from countries where English is an official language but not the (at least de facto) official/most common language.
    I've heard it from BBC announcers who sound like native British English speakers. That and pronouncing the verb estimate like the noun estimate (with a short a) really stand out as odd to my American ears.
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I've heard people say distribute but they are from countries where English is an official language but not the (at least de facto) official/most common language.
    I see, thank you, Kentix :D I prefer distribute!

    Well, given the variation of stress in English, I won't start comparing lists, but it seems to me that where 3-syllable words begin with what we'd recognise as a prefix, the prefix part is generally not stressed : deliver, consider, contradict, exhibit, inhabit, and so on ( I say contribute and distribute, but it's undeniable that the antepenultimate stress in these two words is heard increasingly often).
    Oh, so either way of pronouncing the word is fine. Thank you, Lentulax :D But I prefer distribute!

    I've heard it from BBC announcers who sound like native British English speakers. That and pronouncing the verb estimate like the noun estimate (with a short a) really stand out as odd to my American ears.
    Thank you, AnythingGoes :D I guess that's a slip of tongue. As a native Chinese speaker, I occasionally pronounce Chinese words wrong :p
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've heard it from BBC announcers who sound like native British English speakers. That and pronouncing the verb estimate like the noun estimate (with a short a) really stand out as odd to my American ears.
    Thank you, AnythingGoes :D I guess that's a slip of tongue. As a native Chinese speaker, I occasionally pronounce Chinese words wrong :p
    It is absolutely not a "slip of the tongue" - see several previous posts in this thread.
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is absolutely not a "slip of the tongue" - see several previous posts in this thread.
    Oh I see :idea: Thank you, Loob :D

    After reading all the posts, I suppose distribute is more common and acceptable by most native speakers here :p
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    No, you still haven't got it. Both are correct.

    If BBC announcers in Britain use distribute, then it's "acceptable by most native speakers" in Britain. But as for "most common", I have no idea how we could come to such a conclusion without a large-scale survey.
     

    PureLand

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, you still haven't got it. Both are correct.

    If BBC announcers in Britain use distribute, then it's "acceptable by most native speakers" in Britain. But as for "most common", I have no idea how we could come to such a conclusion without a large-scale survey.
    I think I've understood! Both distribute and distribute are correct! As you said, if BBC announcers in Britain use distribute, then it's "acceptable by most native speakers"in Britain! Thank you so much for your further explanation, Keith Bradford :D (And thank you again, Loob :D I've got your point now.)
     
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