pronunciation: Samuel mule

  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    In 'Samuel' the last three letters are pronounced like two syllables, as if it was written /yoo-ell/, but 'mule' is like one syllable /myool/. That's in my standard British English.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    What has been observed is strictly correct, but I would like to add in the way of nuance that the American pronunciation of "Samuel" is probably more like 2 1/2 syllables. It can be very close to 2 syllables. (The final -el is very soft, very slight.) It can rhyme with a word like "granule," for example. Depends somewhat on the speaker.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Yes, a schwa, that was the word I was looking for. Thanks, Hermione. In practice, I think "Samuel" is most often pronounced even without the schwa. If you look at the two words "jewel" and "joule," I think most Americans will pronounce them the same, even though there is an indistinct schwa at the end of "jewel." The same goes for "Samuel," in my experience.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    So actually I find myself disagreeing with what has been said, and answering the question with "Yes, the final part "-muel" and "mule" sound the same." In my experience, anyway. The fact that the British pronounce it slightly differently tells me that this is also a question of register. Maybe the "upper class" in the United States tends to pronounce "Samuel" as three syllables.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's entirely possible I have never said 'Samuel' in my whole life! My fellow countrymen might disagree with me and when one focuses on a word out of context there's bound to be an exaggeration. I have traces of my north-eastern origins which does tend to separate sounds. It'll be interesting to get the mellifluous southerners' opinions.
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    mellifluous southerners' -- love that :D Must be the bakker (or chewing t'bakker) that makes everything more mellifluous . . .
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    If I say Samule instead of Samuel, it sounds wrong, and so for myself I will say that -muel and mule are definitely different.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I have heard and said Samuel, even if it were just for the sake of Samuel Jackson :) - a great actor.

    I know Americans who would definitely pronounce Samuel the way I do. They would say schedule - skeh-jew-uhl - where the final syllable would be exactly the same as in Samuel...

    This said, I personally agree with Nat above 100%. Oh, and with HG, too. Samuel the Mule rhymes only partly when I say it :D
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks sound shift and heypresto: long vowel for mule - therefore /mjuːl/ or myool - and short vowel for Samuel. Have you still got the schwa ə (-mʊəl)?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I never know how to write how things sound, but I would say Sam-yooal (stress on Sam, yoo shorter than in Mule, tailing off to a schwa) Myool.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    OK, my version is like heypresto's and lingobingo's then. A little schwa, but not quite an extra syllable.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The origins of the name "Samuel" are Hebrew, with the = el being "of God" -> "name of God" or "God has heard" and thus conventionally, a syllable on its own.
    Mule is from Latin and French mulus/mul.

    That said, I could pronounce Samuel either way.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    mellifluous southerners' -- love that :D Must be the bakker (or chewing t'bakker) that makes everything more mellifluous . . .
    I believe she meant southern England, which I don't believe is known as a hotbed for chewing tobacco.:)

    Sam-yoo-ul or Sam-yul (yul rhymes with gull)

    Myool (rhymes with yule)

    So no rhyme for me.
     
    Last edited:

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think I have a vague and distant memory of a hymn we used to sing at school assemblies (50 or so years ago) in which 'Samuel' was spread over several notes/syllables: Sa-am-yoo-oo-el'.

    Does it ring any bells with anyone else?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You're not thinking of "Emmanuel" are you? -> O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Wikipedia

    O come, O come, Emmanuel, - Ee maaaaaa-an yooo el
    And ransom captive Israel,
    That mourns in lonely exile here,
    Until the Son of God appear.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel - Ee maaaaaa-an yooo el
    Shall come to thee, O Israel. - iiiiiiz raaaaay el
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    Jewel and joule are the same for me, but the second syllable of Samuel is a little different from mule.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I suspect the slight difference in pronunciation is heavily influenced by stress.
    In "mule", there is only one syllable, and it is therefore stressed by default. It is also likely to be stressed relative to surrounding syllables in typical contexts:
    The stubborn mule just wouldn't move.
    In "Samuel", especially when the third (or is it the two-and-a-halfth (or -quarterth)?) syllable is merged with the second, it's still unstressed because the main stress is on "Sam".

    If we rob the mule of its stress, for example by prefixing it with "pack-", I think the pronunciation difference gets smaller, or even vanishes.
    Sam the miller owns two mules. They carry his sacks of grain or flour for him.
    Samuel's pack-mules can often be seen grazing in the meadow near the mill.
    These red syllables sound pretty much the same to me.
     
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