3

Someone asked me why "orange" didn't rhyme with "range" and "strange", so I looked it up to have exact phonetics and show them the slight difference, but I found something weird.

On WordReference the phonetics is /ˈɒrɪndʒ/. It didn't seem coherent (it sounds very different with other accents), so I looked on other sites, and according to wiktionary that's only the British pronunciation. They give /ˈɒ.ɹɪnd͡ʒ/, which is a little more precise.

When I listen to the sample, it does sound like "oringe".

That would mean that in the UK, orange rhymes with cringe /krɪndʒ/ and binge /bɪndʒ/, is that correct ? Or are phonetics not 100% correct and doing what they can to be close to real pronunciation ?


Also, reading this question brought me to the list of English words without rhymes, and orange is /ˈ-ɒrᵻndʒ/ there, I don't know if that fits all accents.

  • There is the only one which rhymes with "orange" - (the) Blorenge. – VictorB Jan 25 '17 at 11:14
  • @Rompey Your link says ""Blorenge" is one of only two words in the English language which is a perfect rhyme for "orange." The other is "sporange"." – Teleporting Goat Jan 25 '17 at 11:17
  • Whatever else may rhyme with anything, I don't think this question is for this site. IMHO – VictorB Jan 25 '17 at 11:26
  • @Rompey What do you mean "whatever else may rhyme with anything" ? – Teleporting Goat Jan 25 '17 at 11:30
  • 1
    /ˈɒrɪndʒ/ does not rhyme with /krɪndʒ/ -- the stresses are different. – StoneyB Jan 25 '17 at 11:32
1

orange and cringe don't rhyme according to the usual definition of "rhyme"

The most common definition of "rhyme" used in English takes stress into account. According to this definition, rhyming words have to be identical starting from the stressed vowel and ending with the end of the word.

"Orange" and "cringe" have different stressed vowels, so they cannot rhyme (using this definition).

They could be considered an "imperfect rhyme", which some speakers include in a broader definition of "rhyme"

However, apparently some native speakers (I think a minority) don't have such a strict understanding of "rhyme", and include "imperfect rhymes" that don't match in stress. (See these comments: 1, 2) When dealing with a situation where confusion is possible with a broader definition of "rhyme", the term "perfect rhyme" can be applied to specify criteria like stress-matching and no use of similar but not identical sounds.

Other restrictions for rhyming in English that usually apply in practice, but are arguably not strictly part of the definition:

  • a word should not be rhymed with itself.
  • furthermore, a word should not be rhymed with any prefixed derivatives of itself.
  • A word should not be rhymed with a homophone, and any type of "rich rhyme", where the entire stressed syllable matches, should be avoided. Instead, the rhyming words should have different onsets to the stressed syllable.

Regional variation in the pronunciation of "orange" means that for some people there is no possibility of anything but a very approximate imperfect rhyme

"Orange" is a word that actually has a lot of regional variation in pronunciation that won't be recorded in all dictionaries.

One variable element is the first vowel. In British English, it is indeed /ɒ/, the "LOT" phoneme (which phonetically may be better represented by the IPA symbol [ɔ] in many contemporary England-English accents; see Geoff Lindsey's blog post "The British English vowel system").

American accents generally don't have "LOT" as a distinct phoneme. Instead, it is merged into the "FATHER/SPA/BRA" "broad a" phoneme in most environments. However, most speakers have an exception before /r/. In this environment, it is usually merged into the "NORTH/FORCE" vowel phoneme instead, often transcribed /ɔr/ or occasionally /or/.

And of course, whichever vowel phoneme is used, it will be "rhotic" or r-colored. I'll indicate this with the IPA hook diacritic /˞/.

So the two main American pronunciations start with /ɑ˞/ as in "star", or /o˞/ or /ɔ˞/ as in "bore".

Another variable element is the second, unstressed vowel. In general, the symbol /ᵻ/ is not used to represent a distinct English phoneme. (In fact, "ᵻ" is not officially an IPA letter.) It is shorthand for "variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/". So the transcription "/ˈɒɹᵻnd͡ʒ/" should generally just be interpreted as "/ˈɒɹɪnd͡ʒ/ or /ˈɒɹənd͡ʒ/". This reflects the instability of the distinction between unstressed /ɪ/ and /ə/. Some speakers may use an intermediate phonetic value due to centralization of unstressed /ɪ/, but this will likely vary a lot depending on the speaker. It's certainly not necessary for a learner to try to make a three-way distinction between /ɪ/, /ə/ and /ᵻ/.

I think phonetically, another similar possibility for the nucleus of the second syllable would be a syllabic nasal [n̩]. This is generally not considered to be distinct phonemically from the sequence /ən/.

In American English, another option is outright deletion of the second vowel, resulting in monosyllabic pronunciations like /ɑ˞nd͡ʒ/ or /ɔ˞nd͡ʒ/. I suppose in such cases the rhotic vowels might be slightly nasalized, due to preceding a nasal consonant, although I don't know enough about phonetics to be sure. (I found a source that mentions that the rhotic vowel ɚ at least is generally nasalized before a nasal consonant, and to a lesser degreee after a nasal consonant: Phonetics for Communication Disorders by Martin J. Ball, Nicole Muller)

This gives us at least the following possible pronunciations:

British English:

  • /ˈɒrɪnd͡ʒ/ (syllabification will vary depending on the theory)
    phonetically, maybe realized something like [ˈɔɹɪnd͡ʒ̥]
  • possibly /ˈɒrənd͡ʒ/ or /ˈɒrn̩d͡ʒ/ for some speakers

American English:

  • /ˈɑrɪnd͡ʒ/
    phonetically something like [ˈɑ˞ɹɪnd͡ʒ̥]
  • /ˈɔrɪnd͡ʒ/ or /ˈorɪnd͡ʒ/
  • /ˈɑrənd͡ʒ/ or /ˈɑrn̩d͡ʒ/
  • /ˈɔrənd͡ʒ/, /ˈorənd͡ʒ/, /ˈɔrn̩d͡ʒ/ or /ˈorn̩d͡ʒ/
  • /ɑrnd͡ʒ/
    phonetically something like [ɑ̃˞nd͡ʒ̥]
  • /ɔrnd͡ʒ/ or /ˈornd͡ʒ/
    phonetically something like [õ̞˞nd͡ʒ̥]
  • Does this answer the question? – Lambie Jan 25 '17 at 21:23
  • To tell you the truth, I found it rather long. – Lambie Jan 25 '17 at 21:32
  • I am just not sure an entire lesson on rhyming and all those phonetic symbols make it clearer, that's all. – Lambie Jan 25 '17 at 21:34
  • @Lambie: What do you think of the current layout? I just thought info on the pronunciation of "orange" might be useful for a learner. – sumelic Jan 25 '17 at 21:35
  • It's fine, I just do not see why it needs to be so loooong. :) – Lambie Jan 25 '17 at 21:45
1

No. Orange doesn't rhyme with Cringe in normal British pronunciation.

Orange rhymes with Lozenge.
Cringe rhymes with Binge.

Orange is clearly a two-syllable word with stress on the first syllable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.