pronunciation: wrath

lalettre

Member
English (British, Indian); Hindi
Hi everyone!
Somebody told me that my pronunciation of 'wrath' is a bit peculiar. I pronounce it in rhyme with 'goth', but I was told that its usually pronounced like 'math', and then I immediately thought of 'wrought' (with a t in the end of course)... I wonder what is the correct way of saying it (I've used the rhyme with 'goth' all my life...)

Thanks!

P.S.: I hope my question is not too messy!
 
  • lalettre

    Member
    English (British, Indian); Hindi
    Hmm, I guess my accent must be pretty peculiar then! For me the rhymes are a bit more restricted:
    bath, path, Plath, lath etc
    math, hath, bat, cat etc
    wrath, goth, got, dot etc
    (ignore the mixture of th's and t's, my imagination with rhymes has deserted me!)

    So, all in all, I'm completely confused!!
     

    lalettre

    Member
    English (British, Indian); Hindi
    OK I stand reassured with some research on google:

    http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/english/data/d0083068.html

    The standard current British pronunciation is [roth], but some older well educated people say [rawth]. The US pronunciation is [rath], to rhyme with Kath.


    I don't know whether I'm British or "older well educated" though :Big Grin:
    So i'll put it down to A.E., B.E. (and I.E.) distinction!

    Thanks everyone for your help!
     

    tilywinn

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    Hi Lalettre,
    It seems you have got it figured now ;) but just for the record...

    On the pronunciation of ‘wrath’ I have always said it like ‘roth’ to rhyme with ‘moth.’ I would consider it wrong (in Australian English) to say it otherwise. It seems as though it may be another case of British English vs American English.

    Also, when considering rhyming ‘wrath’ with ‘bath’ it wouldn’t work for an Australian English speaker. Therefore I would venture to say it wouldn’t work for some British English speakers either. If I say ‘bath’ it would sound like ‘bar- th.’ The sound I believe Bibliolept was after would rhyme with ‘hath.’ I can also get it to rhyme with the beginning of ‘mathematics’ but I say ‘maths’ (pronounced ‘mass’) not ‘math’ so to avoid confusion I will leave that one alone ;)

    To me the rhyming is like this:
    Bath, path (bar-th, par-th)
    Wrath, goth. moth
    Maths, mass
    Kath, hath
     
    Hmm. Well, all speakers of AE will certainly not agree with this, but around here (New York, that is), the vowel sounds would be the same in the following groups:

    1) bath, path, hath, math, lath, wrath -- and also mass and cat.

    2) Goth; also hot and fog.

    3) wroth, moth; also fought, call, law, and dog.
     

    lalettre

    Member
    English (British, Indian); Hindi
    Hi Lalettre,
    It seems you have got it figured now ;) but just for the record...

    On the pronunciation of ‘wrath’ I have always said it like ‘roth’ to rhyme with ‘moth.’ I would consider it wrong (in Australian English) to say it otherwise. It seems as though it may be another case of British English vs American English.

    Also, when considering rhyming ‘wrath’ with ‘bath’ it wouldn’t work for an Australian English speaker. Therefore I would venture to say it wouldn’t work for some British English speakers either. If I say ‘bath’ it would sound like ‘bar- th.’ The sound I believe Bibliolept was after would rhyme with ‘hath.’ I can also get it to rhyme with the beginning of ‘mathematics’ but I say ‘maths’ (pronounced ‘mass’) not ‘math’ so to avoid confusion I will leave that one alone ;)

    To me the rhyming is like this:
    Bath, path (bar-th, par-th)
    Wrath, goth. moth
    Maths, mass
    Kath, hath

    Wow, it seems like there's a huge variety of pronunciation patterns across the globe! But I see that I completely concur with your rhymes. Hmm, I'd think twice about Maths (like hath) and mass though, don't you pronounce 'mah-ss' like 'pah-ss' (pass) or bath 'bar-th'?

    Well I'm doubly reassured about wrath now...but now I wonder if it differs too much from wrought (except for the harsher t-sound in the end)!

    Thanks for your help everyone!
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Lalettre.

    ...but now I wonder if it differs too much from wrought (except for the harsher t-sound in the end)!

    Well, it does differ in the sense that — in Received Pronunciation at least, and apart from the different final consonant sounds — wrath has a short "o" vowel sound (like the one in "not", "got", spot", etc.), while wrought has a long "o", (like the one in "short, "brought", bought", etc.).

    GS
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm putting in the IPA for the record. In my BrE style accent wrath is /rɒθ/ and I would pronounce it identically to wroth (mentioned earlier in the thread - our dictionary indicates /rəʊθ/ as another pronunciation, but I've never heard it said that way). The vowel is the one in cloth.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I'm putting in the IPA for the record. In my BrE style accent wrath is /rɒθ/ and I would pronounce it identically to wroth (mentioned earlier in the thread - our dictionary indicates /rəʊθ/ as another pronunciation, but I've never heard it said that way). The vowel is the one in cloth.
    I don't see why 'wrath' shoud be pronounced with the diphtong 'əʊ'. And neither does Longman pronunciation dictionary, which, among the multitude of options, does not recognize /rəʊθ/.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Sorry if I confused people. I was referring to wroth rather than wrath. The OED indicates:

    wroth /rəʊθ/ /rɒθ/
    wrath /rɔːθ/, /rɒθ/

    My point is that I use /rɒθ/ for both.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I don't see why 'wrath' shoud be pronounced with the diphtong 'əʊ'. And neither does Longman pronunciation dictionary, which, among the multitude of options, does not recognize /rəʊθ/.
    I think that may be the version referenced in post #11 and in non-IPA as raw-th. This I would categorize as an older form of RP to rhyme with claw-th for the word cloth and awf for "off". (The aw sound there is as said by one who has not merged the caught and cot vowels!). For me, wrath rhymes with broth (same short o as in not for an unmerged). For all the AmE speakers I've heard say the word, it is the cat vowel that is used.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Hmm, I guess my accent must be pretty peculiar then! For me the rhymes are a bit more restricted:
    bath, path, Plath, lath etc
    math, hath, bat, cat etc
    wrath, goth, got, dot etc
    (ignore the mixture of th's and t's, my imagination with rhymes has deserted me!)

    So, all in all, I'm completely confused!!

    That's an interesting collection of vowels you have there. I would pronounce all of those A's the same, and I would pronounce the O in goth differently from the O's in the other two words.

    Hmm. Well, all speakers of AE will certainly not agree with this, but around here (New York, that is), the vowel sounds would be the same in the following groups:

    1) bath, path, hath, math, lath, wrath -- and also mass and cat.

    2) Goth; also hot and fog.

    3) wroth, moth; also fought, call, law, and dog.

    I would move Goth and fog down into the third group.
     
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    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I think that may be the version referenced in post #11 and in non-IPA as raw-th. This I would categorize as an older form of RP to rhyme with claw-th for the word cloth and awf for "off". (The aw sound there is as said by one who has not merged the caught and cot vowels!). For me, wrath rhymes with broth (same short o as in not for an unmerged). For all the AmE speakers I've heard say the word, it is the cat vowel that is used.

    You use the "cot" vowel for broth? I rhyme broth with moth, using the "caught" vowel.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I would group those as follows:

    1. law, caught, fought, dog, moth - /ɔ/
    2. cot - /
    ɒ/
    3. wrath - /
    æ/

    (At least, I think those are the symbols I want....)

     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    So: dawg and mawth and brawth but not cawt for cot? I learn about some new combination of vowels in a new (to me) regional accent every once in a while. My short o in hot and dog and cot and log etc remain stubbornly BrE :D
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When I was a lad, in the UK wrath rhymed with moth. I think I was always aware that Americans pronounced it differently, and since the Wrath of Khan came out I have increasing heard the American pronunciation here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_II:_The_Wrath_of_Khan There is a further complication in that some older RP speakers used to pronounce words like cloth and wrath with a long vowel like in sword. I am familiar with wroth from Matthew 2:18 and I have always heard it pronounced with the same vowel as road. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. http://bible.cc/matthew/2-16.htm
     
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    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    So: dawg and mawth and brawth but not cawt for cot? I learn about some new combination of vowels in a new (to me) regional accent every once in a while. My short o in hot and dog and cot and log etc remain stubbornly BrE :D

    If I were attempting a phonetic spelling, I would use "haht, dawg, caht, lawg" ("ah" as in bah!) for those last four words.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't see why 'wrath' shoud be pronounced with the diphtong 'əʊ'. And neither does Longman pronunciation dictionary, which, among the multitude of options, does not recognize /rəʊθ/.
    I think that may be the version referenced in post #11 and in non-IPA as raw-th. This I would categorize as an older form of RP to rhyme with claw-th for the word cloth and awf for "off".
    But surely the /əʊ/ stands for the vowel in clothe rather than the one in cloth​ (however this is pronounced)?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    But surely the /əʊ/ stands for the vowel in clothe rather than the one in cloth​ (however this is pronounced)?

    Thanks - I'm still not too good with the IPA : /əʊ/ would be the vowel in both (and therefore not the aw in trawl that I interpeted the comment about - suspecting rawth as the sound of wrath). Perhaps the /əʊ/ is the one that would have been in older RP for wroth?
     

    Gotham Sidart

    New Member
    USA
    English - India
    Having grown up in India, I'm used to the British pronunciation as in 'roth'. I just can't bring myself to say 'rath' though that's what I hear Americans say and I've been in the States for over three decades.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Welcome to the forum, Gotham Sidart.

    I notice the different British pronunciation in the audio clips in the WordReference dictionary. The UK one sounds like "roth", as you describe.

    I'm curious. Do you pronounce "wrath" and "wroth" differently?
     

    N S Thomas

    New Member
    British English
    Hi everyone, Greetings from the UK.
    Here is something I wrote elsewhere, about wrath/wroth, but want to share especially with you Dear Friends in the US.
    The "wroth" pronunciation is an affectation promoted by the so called "public" schools of England. The majority of folk in the UK pronounce it as it's spelled -- "wrath". Today, the archaic spelling "wroth" has given way to the standard spelling "wrath", so let's not perpetuate this pretence. It's just illogical to teach the standard spelling "wrath" but then insist on "wroth" as the correct way to say it. This only creates a sense of snobbery among a privileged minority within the population of the UK. So "take heart" fellow Americans and Scots when you hear (as I have heard, twice now!) a British speaker inform an American audience of the "correct" pronunciation of this word -- so pedantic and so embarrassing.
    Best wishes to you all
    NST.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello NST - welcome to the forums!

    I'm afraid I disagree with almost everything you say in your post above.
    I do agree, however, that a speaker of one variety telling a speaker of another variety that the latter's pronunciation is wrong is "pedantic and embarrassing".
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The "wroth" pronunciation is an affectation promoted by the so called "public" schools of England.
    But isn’t ALL standardization in pronunciation, grammar and spelling the product of elite institutions?
    - RP (received pronunciation = accepted at the Royal court)
    - the Queen’s English
    - Oxford English
    - BBC English
    - no doubt now increasingly other centres of media power
    - …
    We each have personal likes and dislikes among the items in this list, which may sometimes influence our choice of pronunciation.
     
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    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    We also need to be careful to distinguish between "wroth" and "roth" as pronunciations - these need not be 'the same' to all speakers of English. (For 'wrath' I use 'roth' and in no shape or form do I consider myself to be part of 'a privileged minority within the population of the UK'. If others have different pronunciations, then so be it.)

    And the English spelling and sound correspondences are notoriously difficult, particularly English English, but that's just how it is. As we know, 'ghoti' is the 'correct' spelling of 'fish'!
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    There's at least some Scots* that pronounce it "wrath" - as can be heard at every Burns' Nicht Supper during the traditional recitation of Tam o' Shanter:
    ...
    Whare sits our sulky sullen dame,
    Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
    Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
    But they are definitely a minority of the British population. I'm a "wroth" speaker. I had the privilege of going to a grammar school, but it was in Birmingham, which is hardly the home of an affectation promoted by the so called "public" schools of England.

    * Perhaps that's the Disunited Kingdom rather than the UK. :(
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I basically correspond to RM1 above. I don't have the caught/cot merger.

    RM1 + some additions from me:
    1. law, caught, fought, dog, fog, log, moth - /ɔ/
    2. cot, hot, not - /ɒ/
    3. wrath - /æ/

    Hot dog is two different vowels. hot = 2 dog = 1

    Wrath, path, math, grass all rhyme and have the same vowel as cat.

    I don't have much occasion to pronounce wroth, but I would pronounce it as 1 - like rawth.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The current WR dictionary lists both pronunciations as correct in the US:

    wrath - WordReference.com Dictionary of English
    ...

    Yes. Instead of trying to use other English words as models (a fruitless exercise unless everyone agrees), the WordReference dictionary has a variety of pronunciations to choose from.

    1659122938967.png
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I've just tracked down some recordings on YouTube of the UK Shipping Forecast being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
    Cape Wrath (the NW corner of the British mainland) is a delimiting landmark between inshore forecast areas, and so it features in most of the forecasts.

    Most of the announcers seem to pronounce it to rhyme with math, not moth, but in the forecast read by Peter Jefferson on 12th March 1998, he pronounces it both ways within 30 seconds of each other! He said "From Mull of Galloway to Cape ROTH, ...; from Cape RATH to Rattray Head, ...".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The "Wrath" in Cape Wrath doesn't have anything to do with wrath-meaning-anger, though...
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I didn't know that. I'd always thought it was because wind and tides can whip up an angry sea, dangerous to boats and even ships at times.
    And presumably those who do pronounce it ROTH must associate it with the anger meaning too.
     
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