I'm confused with the logics of pronunciation for some words. Some of them are frequently used in my speaking and I tend to confuse.

The word wine sounds different than wind in the same part of the word i.e the root win; another pair which confused me is child / children, where on children pronunciation of child is similar to chill at least in my opinion.

Any way to rationalize this or is just memorizing?

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    It isn't the logic of pronunciation but of spelling. The sound of vowels and consonants has changed over time. Very long ago spelling was based largely on regional pronunciation. Spelling was then normalized by fiat so that nowadays it is quite universal, with only a few relatively insignificant variations. Since language is always changing there is no way that a newly revised spelling system would not eventually become out of sync again. What's worse is that all existing texts from the past several hundred years would have to be reissued under the "new" spelling, so you'd have to learn both! – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '18 at 13:17
  • Thanks for the comment although I can't get what you mean. In the example win is pronounced differently. Do you mean the words start being used in different times or regions and so they are pronounced differently? – user73571 Jul 8 '18 at 13:22
  • Pronunciation varies regionally at any given time, and pronunciation also morphs over time. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '18 at 13:23
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    During the Middle English period here's how modern English sister was spelled when in the nominative case: suster, souster, soster, sister, cister, zoster, swuster. You can still hear these differences in regional dialects. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '18 at 13:29
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It's actually even more tricky than what you describe.

For example, the word wind that you mentioned has multiple senses—and two of those senses are pronounced differently. The noun for "a breeze" rhymes with win (as you mentioned) but the verb for "to crank" actually does rhyme with wine.

The only way to know which sense of a word is being used is by context. Once you identify it by context, then you have to just "know" how to pronounce that particular sense.

There certainly are some rules. For instance Oxford provides two basic pronunciation guides: one for the UK and one for the US. But there is also a need for memorization and habit where those fail—most often in the case of exceptions.

When I speak, I apply any rules without being aware of them. (Although I do vaguely recall my years in grade school when I was taught some of the basic rules.)

Another problem is regional dialects and accents. In broad terms, one country can pronounce the same words differently than another country. (As shown by the two different Oxford pronunciation guides.) But this is also true of different particular areas within a country—and even different social and cultural groups.

If I were to visit certain places in Wales or Scotland, for instance, or Jamaica or New Orleans (or even English-speaking places in Quebec), I might have difficulty understanding what was being said (as could they have difficulty understanding me). This is despite the fact that we would all be speaking English.


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