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My English teacher often corrects me on the correct pronunciation of these suffixes. She says these should be pronounced with the stress on the first O.

I have heard many educated folks pronounce it with no stress at all.

I have also heard that the vowel O should be pronounced as "au" rather than "o".

What is the actual pronunciation of these suffixes, both in British and American English?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

In both American and British English, there is an emphasis on the first O, but not too much. For example, "astronomy" is pronounced:

  • "as" like "us" (or sometimes "ass" from "class")
  • "tr" from "trim"
  • "on" from "marathon"
  • "om" like "um"
  • "y" like "ee" from "tree", but shorter

However, in Indian English, I have heard many people pronouncing it astrOHnomy, basically giving the O in "astro" the same emphasis as the O in "micro" and tacking on the "nomy" (rhymes with "mommy"). This is completely different from the pronounciation above, and is wrong in American/British English.

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I'd suggest the last two syllables would be pronounced 'o', 'me', not 'om' 'ee' – mcalex Jan 24 '13 at 13:29
@mcalex: Maybe that's British English? I'm sure I've heard astronomy pronounced the same in both, but I may be wrong... – Manishearth Jan 24 '13 at 13:38
I guess I should mention that Australian English is my native tongue, but I don't remember hearing it that way in my Hollywood sponsored US English language classes. I should've paid more attention. :-) – mcalex Jan 24 '13 at 14:37

I can't think of a single prefix that works for all three suffixes so I'll give two examples (in Standard American English).

  • 'geology' and 'geography' both have the accent on the first 'o'. gee AH gruh fee, gee AH luh gee (in IPA, /dʒiy 'ɑ lə dʒiy/, /dʒiy 'ɑ grə fiy/

  • 'astrology' and 'astronomy' also both have the accent on the first 'o'. uh STRAH luh gee, uh STRAH nuh mee. In IPA, /ə 'strɑ lə dʒiy/, /ə 'strɑ nə miy/

So your teacher is right, stress the first 'o'. I don't see any difference for educated speakers.

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These suffixes all have three syllables; the vowels are what's important here. The stress in all cases is on the first vowel.

In US English, this is the vowel pattern:

  • "o" pronounced "ah", stressed

  • "o" or "a" pronounced more or less as "uh", unstressed

  • "y" pronounced as "ee", unstressed

Another suffix following this pattern is "-opathy".

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Yet another suffix that follows this pattern: "-(o)phony." Also worth noting, there are some words where "-logy”, “-nomy”, and “-graphy” occur after other vowels besides "o," such as genealogy, antinomy, calligraphy. These words have the same stress pattern, with the primary stress falling on the third syllable from the end. – sumelic Mar 27 at 1:58

Always when having a question about the pronunciation I use Cambridge dictionary which provide the options of the pronunciation in British and American spoken English.

See here: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pronunciation/english/urology

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Most long words have the stress on the third last syllable. So it is as'tronomy, as'trology, ge'ography, ab'surdity, phi'losophy, 'liberty etc.

Here you have some stress pattern of English words https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/word-stress-rules.htm

In point D the wbsite says long nouns ending in -cy/gy/phy/ty have stress on the third syllable from the end.

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In British English, they would be pronounced:

-ology: ollow gee

-onomy: onnow mee

-ography: ogg rah fee

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I would pronounce onnow like honour rather than giving it a round ow sound. Ditto with ollow. – Lunivore Jan 24 '13 at 10:57
@Lunivore perhaps my pronunication is more received than yours! – spiceyokooko Jan 24 '13 at 10:59

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