Pronunciation: southern

Discussion in 'English Only' started by modus.irrealis, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada

    I just found out that my pronunciation of southern is strange. I pronounce the "ou" just like it's pronounced in "south," instead of the normal pronunciation as in "sud" (I guess). Now I'm sure my pronunciation is the normal one around here, although I'll start paying more attention, and Wikipedia mentions it, but I can't find it in any of the dictionaries I checked, so I figured it must be really rare. So does anyone else pronounce it the way I do?
  2. VoogerTown Member

    Your pronunciation is indeed odd. I pronounce it "suthern". I've never heard it pronounced with the "ou" sound in "south".
  3. smiling Senior Member

    Really? I've always said southern like ou of south.
  4. VoogerTown Member

    Most native speakers don't, smiling.
  5. Jacob Senior Member

    New Jersey, United States
    English (United States)
    I pronounce it the same way as VoogerTown. I've never heard anyone pronounce the ou in southern the same way as the ou in south.
  6. ScienceDay Member

    I pronounce the "ou" in "southern" like the "u" in "such". It doesn't share the same vowel as "south".
  7. smiling Senior Member

    right, i meant that... the same as ScienceDay. Nevertheless it seems it is not correct either, is it? Can be AE/BE?
  8. ScienceDay Member

    Nope. "Suthern" is the pronunciation in both American and British English. Pronouncing the "ou" in "southern" like the "ou" in "south" is rare indeed. I've never heard such a pronunciation.
  9. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    Probably not. I checked both American and British dictionaries and none listed my pronunciation. But I wouldn't call it incorrect -- I am a native speaker after all :) -- just extremely regional going by the posts so far.
  10. smiling Senior Member

    Thanks everybody!
  11. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    How do most Canadians say it, Modus? We may have come across a peculiarity of Canadian English (bearing in mind, of course, that you guys pronounce your ou's differently!).
  12. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    Like everybody else, meaning not like me. That's the strange thing (and part of the reason I brought this up here). I asked some people I knew and the only people who pronounce it my way (or even find it non-strange) are from around here, i.e. Southern Ontario. (The Wikipedia article seems to agree with this as well.)

    I've searched the Internet as well as I could and nothing comes up other than that Wikipedia article and older versions of it, over and over again, so it seems to be very localized.

    Actually, I do say the ou in south and southern differently :), but the ou in my southern is the ou in most people's south, so I figured I could get away with it.
  13. Snowman75

    Snowman75 Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Australia (English)
    For non-native speakers, note also that the "th" in southern is pronounced differently from the "th" in south. The former is voiced, the later unvoiced.
  14. swyves

    swyves Senior Member

    UK English, Living in Peru
    A semi-interesting vignette from the world of biochemistry involves the invention of a fundamental technique by a researcher called "Ed Southern"; he (or his team, or whoever) christened it "the Southern Blot".

    However, since then two related techniques have been invented, and they are called the Northern Blot and the Western Blot. In a sense, the asociation of the technique with its inventor has sneakily been broken after the fact, despite the name staying -- in fact, it's one of two instances I can think of of that happening in the Biochemistry world.

    And, to get back the point, I've heard that Ed Southern pronounces the name with an "ow" sound, and so people can voice allegiance to him when giving talks by referring to a "sowthern" rather than a "suthern" blot.
  15. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Most people = most Canadians or most speakers of English everywhere?

    Could you please clarify, whether:

    -you pronounce the "ou" in "south" like most Canadians or like other speakers of English

    -you pronounce the "ou" in "southern" like most Canadians or like other speakers of English (meaning the "ou" in "out" since we've established you don't pronounce it like the "u" in "bug")
  16. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    Everywhere, or to make sure I'm not overgeneralizing, General American.

    Like the stereotypical Canadian. It's the ou in "about".

    Well, I'm sure my "out" is different than most speakers, so I'll say that in "southern" I have the same "ou" as in "loud." But just to be clear, the most common Canadian pronunciation of that word seems to be with the "u" in "bug."
  17. Snowman75

    Snowman75 Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Australia (English)
    For me:

    south = mouth = town
    southern = mother = but = sun

    I'm not aware of any regional variations within Australia.
  18. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Modus many people from Ontario pronounce out and about differently from the US that is a known feature of eastern Canadian English. It is probably the most distinguishable feature that separates Northeastern American from Southeastern Canadian, so southern may be part of that too.
  19. See, dictionaries do not always give the only acceptable version of pronunciation. English is one of those languages with an emormous variety of accents and dialects, half of the words pronounced by the profoundly native native-speakers in Scotland or Cornwall will never be discovered in any dictionary, which give only the standardised form.
    Funny, I have just caught myself last week pronouncing exactly this word just the way you do, modus.irrealis. And in the best tradition of self-analysis started thinking why on earth I do it not the way everybody around does. I am quite sure I picked it up from somebody, somehow I pronounce "suthern" in some cases while others just do not sound right to me other than with "sOUthern" or with a very feebly voiced second sound, at least. Probably, it is because I am from southern England:).
    So, I advise you to adopt the commonly accepted version, while myself, I shall probably keep up with what I have. - what if I am a representative of some dying-out breed of those "pure English" speakers?!:D I shall take upon myself your burden of being out of step with the world, modus.irrealis!:D:p
  20. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    In my very humble opinion, /sowthern/ is a mispronunciation.

    I've heard it from learners of English, but not native speakers.
  21. Just two cents from a non native speaker: I have never heard, even from learners of English, the diphthongal pronunciation of the word southern. I also regard it as a mispronunciation.
  22. maxiogee Banned

    Some presenters on Irish television channels refer to suddern and sudderly when presenting the weather forecast.
  23. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    You're right about the feature, but I can't think of any other word that has this kind of correspondance. I'm guessing this is just a local spelling pronunciation that hasn't been suppressed. Now I want to find out just how local it is.

    :D The thing is there's no pressure on me to change the pronunciation since it is said around here (unlike "tulip," which I was forced to change). But I will remember to switch when I travel. And you're right about dictionaries; while searching the Internet, I came across a number of other words I pronounce strange and those aren't listed in the dictionary either.
  24. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I have always pronounced it 'sath'n' with a soft 'th' which is the way I think most people, at least in Southern England, pronounce it.

    I should add that the 'a' sound is not like in 'cap' but rather like in Monday (mandi)
  25. ballonenciel New Member

    English - US
    I purposely pronounce the "ou" in "southern" with the same sound as in "south", just because I think it's ridiculous that most people pronounce it as a short U. I have heard one other person pronounce it that way, and that person was from Ontario. So I think it's an Ontario thing. I think you should continue pronouncing it that way. Who cares what other people think? Maybe it'll catch on, and English will become slightly less irregular. ;)
  26. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    Dear ballonenciel,

    Your problem is going to be that nobody will understand what you're talking about!
  27. ballonenciel New Member

    English - US
    Most of the time people understand. The worst that's happened is that some people say, "What? You mean /SUH-thurn/?" or something like that, and I reply, "No, I meant to say /SOW-thurn/. /SUH-thurn/ doesn't make any sense." :p
  28. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    It makes perfect sense. What doesn't make sense about it? You think that identical letter clusters should be pronounced identically? I'd love to hear you talk - you must be incomprehensible.
    Or is it simply that you think words with the same roots should be pronounced in a similar way? I presume, then, that you say child the same as children.
  29. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    That's one for the Gipper!:) Great!
  30. ballonenciel New Member

    English - US
    Yes, Silver_Biscuit. Both "child" and "children" have a short I. :p
  31. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    I'm sorry to say, but I think you're a bit out of your tree! How can you possibly suggest such an outlandish idea?:eek:
  32. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    I assume (and sincerely hope) that it was a joke.
  33. allyprice Member

    English - New Zealand
    Does the :p at the end mean you are taking the piss? Or do you actually say child and children the same way? What about cloth and clothes?

    Because my brother does similar things with his pronunciation but it always with tongue in cheek.
  34. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    So when you speak to a youth using the side of your mouth, do you face in a southerly direction?

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