Are You Sure?

Are You Sure

I think that at this time, (please note that I did not say “at this point in time”) for a slight change, we should examine the pronunciation of words. Because of possible variations related to where one lives, I need to point out that I am speaking as a Canadian residing in Ontario.

Let’s begin. There is one word, only four letters in length and so commonplace that you wouldn’t think twice about it. Maybe so, but I have noticed recently that it has more than one form of pronunciation.

The word is “sure”. Here it is in a possible snippet of dialogue.
“Could you help me with this, please?”
“Sure, no problem.”
This is a one-syllable word that requires no embellishment in saying or in meaning. Right? You would pronounce it abruptly and shortly, as if it were spelled “sher”.

Then why do some people say it like this:
“Could you help me with this, please?”
“Shoor, no problem”.
My observation, or should I say my ear tells me, that can be heard south of the border. In fact, none other than President Barack Obama makes use of this pronunciation in any interview or statement to the press.

The Cambridge dictionary indicates that the American pronunciation is more like “shor”. The UK pronunciation is “shoa” and I suppose the Canadian version is “shur”

There is another interesting case that puzzles me. It may not be in daily use unless you have a large extended family. You see, the word is “aunt”
Now, no doubt you ask, “ What could be the problem?”
It’s obviously pronounced as “ant” as in the insect that spoils your picnic on the back lawn.

According to my son who lives in Wisconsin, USA, that is incorrect. How should it be pronounced, then, I asked. One should say it in the form of “ohnt”. You mean, as if you resided in Downton Abbey? And like “tomahto” rather than “tomayto”? Right.

According to the Cambridge dictionary the greater number of Americans (roughly 80%) have the insect variant as their model. Not surprisingly, those living in the north-east (New England states) use the Abbey version.

So, where does that leave us in Canada? We’re with the ants, I suppose because we are more grounded!

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