Most of the dictionaries online pronounce the word fireman the way I expected, but one of them's American pronunciation sounds like /ˈfaɪə(r)mæn/ even though the IPA is still /ˈfaɪə(r)mən/.

Is possible that it's a peculiarity in some American dialects?


Where I am from, midwest United States, /ˈfaɪə(r)mæn/ would be a more careful pronunciation while
/ˈfaɪə(r)mən/ would be what you are most likely to say in casual speech when talking a little more quickly.

The benefit of the more careful pronunciation is that you manage to explicitly distinguish a singular firefighter – a fireman – from a group of them – firemen.

Alternatively, you could use /ˈfaɪə(r)mæn/ to distinguish a male firefighter from a female one (a firewoman).

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  • As a side note, I believe firefighter is taking over as the term for those who fight fires these days (as it's gender neutral). I also think female firefighter is the preferred term rather than firewoman (which saw a lot of use in WW2 era) probably relating to the gender neutral term – Smock Aug 14 '19 at 9:58
  • I know that personally I always tend to say firefighter, although it's not a conscious choice to be gender neutral; it's just what I say. I don't know anyone who really says firewoman, but then again it's not a word that has the opportunity to come up very often either. – cjl750 Aug 14 '19 at 19:20

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