It’s a small world. Better pronounce things right.
After seeing the photo in the LA Times this morning of Robert Downey, Jr. and Guy Ritchie sporting their three-piece tweeds, my wife Patricia and I found we disagreed about the pronunciation of the word “waistcoat”. Her British mother pronounced it “waist-coat”, and I had always heard that the correct British pronunciation was “west-cut”. So she grabbed her dictionary and I grabbed my computer to see which of us was right. (Both, it turns out.)
As usual, she beat me to the punch with her paper-based reference, even though I am a world-class Googler. Nonetheless, I found a resource that no printed dictionary can match:
Forvo: the pronunciation guide. All the words in the world pronounced by native speakers
I think it’s a site everybody in this global economy should bookmark. (How controlling am I? Jeeeez!)
Like Henry Higgins, I’m fascinated by accents, and by the way our language has morphed over time. Perhaps you like that stuff, too. If so, check out this database of amazing accents — English as pronounced by people from various countries:
The Speech Accent Archive
And this site showing different native speakers’ accents from England, Canada, the USA, Ireland, Australia and, yes, even India:
The Audio Archive
As Sherlock says in the movie, “Data, data, data!” I’m sure he would have found the internet absolutely fascinating.
I believe often pronunciation is a class matter. The wealthy and the powerful often use “fancy” pronunciation as a way of distinguish those “in the know” (example: “garage”) and to detect impostors (poor guys who would like to pass for upper-class).
The same occurs in French…