pronunciation: processes

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natkretep

Moderato con anima (English Only)
English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
I've got a question about the pronunciation of the plural noun processes. In my own accent this is /'prəʊsesɪz/ or PROH-ses-iz. I know that one possible pronunciation is one with /iːz/ or eez at the end, like the last syllable of parentheses - I just heard Hillary Clinton say that in Africa. (I'm not concerned about the vowel of the first syllable: that variation does not bother me.)

I'm wondering if anyone can throw light on this pronunciation, since the -es looks like a normal English plural inflection to me and should be pronounced the normal English fashion. How common is the /iːz/ pronunciation and do those who use it also use the normal /ɪz/ or /əz/ too?
 
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  • Chilenagirl

    New Member
    English- United States
    I'm not sure, but I know that I use the same pronunciation that Hillary Clinton used (eez). This is true for the other Americans that I know as well. It is very common in the United States, but as for other English speaking countries, I wouldn't have a clue.

    Good Luck!
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It is, unfortunately, in my opinion, becoming increasingly common but only for certain words. Processes is the major one where the eez is heard but speakers who use it don't use it for many other words. For example, I've never heard of ILL-ness-eez" :)
    I would be interested in how it got started, if anyone has ideas on that.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I've got a question about the pronunciation of the plural noun processes. In my own accent this is /'prəʊsesɪz/ or PROH-ses-iz. I know that one possible pronunciation is one with /iːz/ or eez at the end, like the last syllable of parentheses - I just heard Hillary Clinton say that in Africa. (I'm not concerned about the vowel of the first syllable: that variation does not bother me.)

    I'm wondering if anyone can throw light on this pronunciation, since the -es looks like a normal English plural inflection to me and should be pronounced the normal English fashion. How common is the /iːz/ pronunciation and do those who use it also use the normal /ɪz/ or /əz/ too?
    The Web site here, describes it as a reanalysis:

    the pronunciation of processes with the final syllable -eez, as though it were the plural of a Latin noun processis (on the model of analysis, analyses).
    On page 35 of the 1981 book Introduction to the Sociology of Language by Fernando Peñalosa, the author identifies this pronunciation as being among "Some recent changes not yet completely accepted in American English...."

    I expect it would take some work to find more examples on the Internet which discuss the matter objectively, instead of simply griping about it. (And note that the first source I cite above is kind of forcing himself to accept the pronunciation!)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, mplsray and others. It looks as if this pronunication is only AE. The fact that Mrs Clinton uses this pronunciation indicates to me that this is not an insignificant pronunciation. Interesting theory on re-analysis - but it doesn't take someone very bright to realise that the singular isn't processis.

    Anybody in the forum using the -eez pronunciation?
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Thanks, mplsray and others. It looks as if this pronunication is only AE. The fact that Mrs Clinton uses this pronunciation indicates to me that this is not an insignificant pronunciation. Interesting theory on re-analysis - but it doesn't take someone very bright to realise that the singular isn't processis.

    Anybody in the forum using the -eez pronunciation?
    On a hunch, I did a different sort of Google search on the subject, and one thing I found was that Merriam-Webster's Collegiate was said to accept the "-eez" pronunciation. I hadn't even thought to check the online version here. It did indeed show the pronunciation as standard (it shows controversial pronunciations preceded by an obelus <÷>, but no such symbol accompanies the pronunciation in question.

    I then checked the Random House Unabridged online here, and it, too, showed the pronunciation as standard).

    If those two show it as standard, then I, myself, must consider it standard.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, mplsray. Yes, I did a dictionary check too of paper dictionaries. All my British ones don't give any place to the plural form (indicating the assumption that it should be formed and pronounced regularly), but my Webster's lists the plural form and gives the eez pronunciation (though it is the last of three options). So this must mean that it is only American, and a fairly established pronunciation.

    I suppose I will not get a clear answer about when or how this pronunciation arose.

    I'm curious about whether AE speakers might vary between this pronunciation and the regular pronunication (eg the former for formal contexts and the latter for casual contexts).
     

    Sherah

    New Member
    American English
    I always considered the "iz" pronunciation to be correct, and I only recall hearing the "eez" pronunciation once I entered graduate school. At first I thought it was a completely different word. Now I know that it means the same thing, both pronunciations are common enough that they're correct, but I don't think I'll ever use the "eez" pronunciation because it sounds pedantic to me.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think the /iːz/ pronunciation is just wrong.
    It's taking (as mentioned before) the idea of the model of analysis, and applying the same rules to that word when it's not necessary. It should be /'prəʊsesɪz/.

    I wonder how these people say the plural of "success"?? /səksɛsiːz/ (cringe).
    The plural of 'ox' is 'oxen', it doesn't mean that 'fox' becomes 'foxen' - it is just a case of people applying rules that they know happen to a similar word, I suppose it can be quite confusing at times if your hobby isn't studying English....
     

    crescentallat

    New Member
    English
    The 'eez' pronunciation is an affectation that is not grounded in the word's etymology; however it is being used fairly often and will soon be an accepted pronunciation in all dictionaries.
     

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I suspect it's a case of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

    Some people have suddenly discovered that words ending in 's' (analysis, basis) change to "-eez" in the plural. And since 'process' ends in 's' ...

    In fact, 'process' ends with a 'double s' so we can be doubly sure that -eez is correct.


    We're just lucky we're not hearing bus-eez and ass-eez.




    (At the Miss World contest -- "Hey biotch-eez, get yo' ass-eez on da bus-eez.")
    .
     

    crescentallat

    New Member
    English
    Analysis and basis are from Greek words. However, success and address are not and both have double s and our pronunciation of the plural is the short 'e'. I love your fear of the potential 'ass-eez' - it could happen!
     

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    The plural of 'ox' is 'oxen', it doesn't mean that 'fox' becomes 'foxen' ....
    but 'box' becomes 'boxen' if your hobby is Linux .... :p


    EDIT: To answer the question, I use '-iz', sometimes straying a bit towards '-ez'.
    .
     
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    xihuanda

    New Member
    English - US
    Languages do this type of thing all the time, especially when a distinction can be made: such as the difference between processes the plural noun and processes the 3 person present verb.

    do you pronounce he "processes" in these two sentences the same or differently?

    She processes the medical forms.

    These are natural processes.
     

    Hilikus

    New Member
    USA
    English - American
    I would have to say the AE version varies, while I believe most if not all of us say PRAH and not PROH, I and other people I know will say the ending just like BE speakers. It sounds wrong with any of those words that end in -es to say it like eez. I'm from NYS (not NYC), if that matters. Maybe we can figure out which regions this pronunciation is more common.
     

    Marseille302

    Member
    American English
    Good to know about the connection with the Greek words in "-sis" going /iːz/ in the plural form.

    For the word "processes," I actually had always assumed /iːz/ was the correct pronunciation, but I didn't want to belong to the "community" of speakers with on-the-fringe-yet-correct pronunciation. :) The pronunciation does vary in the U.S., and in my experience it tends to be well-educated people using the /iːz/ pronunciation. It has always struck me as highfalutin, as if the speaker wanted to impress others with his superior knowledge.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ...do you pronounce he "processes" in these two sentences the same or differently?

    She processes the medical forms.
    These are natural processes.
    The same: pro-ses-iz (rhyme with go-bless-his).

    There is however another possible pronunciation, when the verb is to process - i.e. to walk in a procession. E.g: "As the royal party processes down the aisle, the choir sings Love divine." This would then be pruh-ses-iz.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Well, I never heard anything other than "-eez", highfalutin or not. And this is a buzzword in the corporate world (during our ISO9001 certification, which is a modern days' bane, I heard it every day more than 10 times, which drove me almost to the barfing point), so one hears it quite often.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    That's interesting, morzh. My reaction was the same as panj's. I'm really curious as to why this pronunciation should have crept in - does it happen with other [non-Latin] words ending in 's'?

    It reminds me of my Somerset roots: we could easily say "-eez" where other varieties of English had "-iz". But in that context, it would definitely be "rustic" rather than "sophisticated":cool:.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Not sure myself.

    When I first saw the word, I pronounced it as "-es", that is as a plural of any other word that ends by "s" (gases, biases, guesses).
    And then I joined The Corporate America, went to my first meeting, and heard THAT. I thought it was an isolated incident, but then other people joined the discussion, and everyone was saying it the very same way, so it was naturally for me to decide that it was I who was wrong.

    It did strike me as pretentious, but then I attributed that to my lack of knowledge.
     

    Hazal025

    New Member
    English - American
    Thanks, mplsray. Yes, I did a dictionary check too of paper dictionaries. All my British ones don't give any place to the plural form (indicating the assumption that it should be formed and pronounced regularly), but my Webster's lists the plural form and gives the eez pronunciation (though it is the last of three options). So this must mean that it is only American, and a fairly established pronunciation.

    I suppose I will not get a clear answer about when or how this pronunciation arose.

    I'm curious about whether AE speakers might vary between this pronunciation and the regular pronunication (eg the former for formal contexts and the latter for casual contexts).

    Hi,

    I ran across this forum while investigating when/where to use the -eez pronunciation before a speech at school. I am an American English speaker, specifically from the South East region.

    My experience is that the iz pronunciation is used in casual conversation. The only time I ever hear the -eez pronunciation is during more formal lectures, or from instructors. I am a science major, possibly that is a factor. It has occurred to me that consciously or not, this is a new example of a subset of society using speech to segregate themselves from, "the masses."

    From my own observations the eez pronunciation is used exclusively by people with a claim to call themselves, "educated," whether valid or not, and also in more formal situations.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    From my own observations the eez pronunciation is used exclusively by people with a claim to call themselves, "educated," whether valid or not, and also in more formal situations.
    That's fascinating, Hazal - welcome to the forums!

    To me (see post 22) the -eez pronunciation sounds inescapably "rustic".

    I'd still be interested to know: does this happen with other words ending in "-es", leaving aside analyses and bases? Would people wanting to sound 'educated' use it in masses, for example?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The only time I ever hear the -eez pronunciation is during more formal lectures, or from instructors. I am a science major, possibly that is a factor. It has occurred to me that consciously or not, this is a new example of a subset of society using speech to segregate themselves from, "the masses."
    Welcome to the forums!

    Coincidentally, when Natkretep mentioned -eez, the first thought that went through my mind was a chemical process and some fictitious distinction between ordinary processes (-iz) or, in my case, (-əz), and a process that involves something that is "technical and not for the masses, who couldn't possibly understand such a thing." :D
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I'm quite certain I've never heard "processes" pronounced as ending in "-eez,"

    << Superfluous comment deleted. Please remain respectful, helpful and cordial >>
     
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    irinet

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Words like 'buses', "asses" are short, so their plural. They don't threaten the user to believe he's 'sounding' like a snake. I believe that the /i:z/ pronunciation for 'process' comes from the speaker's need/instinct to avoid so many /esiz/ in such a short time of uttering the word: /s/ for 'c' and then for the double 's'. Whether it is correct or not to keep going with this new usage, time will tell.


    <<Response to deleted comment not needed>>
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I still think we haven't got to the bottom of this. Why would anyone pronounce "processes" with the final syllable -eez?:confused:
     

    Hazal025

    New Member
    English - American
    I'd still be interested to know: does this happen with other words ending in "-es", leaving aside analyses and bases? Would people wanting to sound 'educated' use it in masses, for example?
    I'm not sure it's really people trying to, "sound educated.". Someone earlier mentioned associating processes (eez) with technical topics, I concur.

    For example, my biochemistry teacher pronounced it this way describing the way an enzyme functions. Also, another word that I think I have heard pronounced this way is the plural of analysis.

    But in everyday conversation, and nontechnical discussions I think everyone I know would use the iz pronunciation.

    Possible we are all wrong, but most professional scientific lectures I have listened to pronounce processes and analyses with the eez pronunciation. Maybe it's spreading from people mimicking others after hearing them speak in public. I started researching the correct pronunciation prior to a speech, possible others have done the same and so the phenomenon spreads.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    For example, my biochemistry teacher pronounced it this way describing the way an enzyme functions. Also, another word that I think I have heard pronounced this way is the plural of analysis.
    That's the thing, though.
    When the singular ends in -is, the common plural form is -es and is pronounced ease (analysis, hypothesis etc) but process is not one of those words. Its plural is a simple "English" add the -(e)s form: processes. There is no reason it should be pronounced ease. Illnesses, abscesses, addresses, congresses, etc are all examples of -ess words that have plurals that are not pronounced ease, so why is processes (by a significant number of speakers)? No-one has yet proposed a convincing reason - aside from the "it sounds more technical" waffle.
     

    Hazal025

    New Member
    English - American
    From dictionary.com. I think the end part about younger educated speakers is interesting.

    "Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of an -eez pronunciation for processes, perhaps by mistaken analogy with such plurals as these, and hypotheses, with which it has no connection. This newer pronunciation is common among younger educated speakers."
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    From dictionary.com. I think the end part about younger educated speakers is interesting.

    "Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of an -eez pronunciation for processes, perhaps by mistaken analogy with such plurals as theses, and hypotheses, with which it has no connection. This newer pronunciation is common among younger educated speakers."
    I was confused by your quote until I found it had a missssing s. Just posting in case anyone else reads this later.
     
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