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Why are words like privacy pronounced like ˈprɪv.ə.si in British and ˈpraɪ.və.si in American (short vowel in the first case, long in the latter one)? I read that determining whether a vowel is short or long, one must split the word in syllables, and then if that vowel is the only one in the syllable and is not succeded by a consonant is long, but if that vowel is still the only one in the syllable but is followed by a consonant in the same syllable is short. In the case of privacy I think it is because of the different spellings (priv-a-cy in British and pri-va-cy in American). If so, do you know other words that have different spellings in British than in American? Thank You

  • The word is spelled the same in both languages. In priv-a-cy, for example, the hyphens have nothing to do with spelling. They are merely phonetic guidelines indicating syllables used (and, thereby, suggestive of pronunciation). So, you've almost answered your own question: refer to regional dictionaries. – Jason Bassford Jul 7 '18 at 19:04
  • A previous question about this topic on the ELU Stack Exchange site: Pronunciation of “priv-” in British English and American English – sumelic Jul 7 '18 at 19:16
  • @JasonBassford: I meant "syllabled" if there is such a terminology – Alex S Jul 7 '18 at 19:35
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There are many - but lists don't make good SE questions, I'm afraid.
Basil, oregano, cigarette, Bernard, advertisement, garage, gourmet, ballet, brochure, address...

bazil bayzil
origarno oreggano
cigarette cigarette
Berna'd Bernaard
advertissment advertizement
garage [or even garridge] garahge
etc

The British have a joke about it, they say that
Americans put the emph-ah-sis on the wrong syll-ah-ble.

One thing I've noticed, though never researched, is that the main differences would tend to be in 'newer' words; words that more likely came though French than early Germanic/Nordic or directly from Latin.

I also found this - 22 Words with British and American Pronunciations that may Confuse you - which includes a lot of even single syllable words where the pronunciation changes even if the emphasis doesn't. Too many to list here.

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