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Why Cambridge English dictionary gives two pronunciations for "teacher" and Lexico gives only one?

Teacher (CED):

  • /ˈtiː.tʃər/ and /ˈtiː.tʃɚ/

Teacher (Lexico):

  • Only /ˈtiːtʃə/

Does teacher have two pronunciations?

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  • If one reputable dictionary has one, and another, even more reputable, two, then why should you assume that one of the ones given is ‘fake’? – Fivesideddice May 3 '20 at 9:14
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    Actually Lexico has two pronunciations, but you can't see both at once. You have to switch between the UK and US versions of Lexico. – rjpond Jan 18 at 17:59
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In non-rhotic1 varieties of English (Standard Southern British English here), 'teacher' on it's own is pronounced /ˈtiː.tʃə/. However, when it's followed by another word beginning with a vowel, it's pronounced /ˈtiː.tʃər..../ i.e. the R is pronounced.

Dictionaries often write it with a parenthetical or a superscript R2 to indicate that the R is pronounced when followed by a vowel

  • /ˈtiː.tʃə(r)/
  • /ˈtiː.tʃər/

Example:

  • Teacher → /ˈtiː.tʃə/
  • Teacher and students → [tiːt͡ʃe.ɹən.stjuːdn̩ts] (here the R is pronounced because it's followed by 'and' which begins with a vowel and that's what the superscript or parenthesised R indicates).

On the other hand, /ˈtiː.tʃɚ/ is the General American English pronunciation of 'teacher'. GenAmEn is rhotic, meaning the R is pronounced in all positions.

In General American English pronunciation, the vowel /ə/ merges with the /r/ to form a single vowel called r-coloured vowel: /ɚ/.

Lexico only gives the BrEn pronunciation, while Cambridge gives both BrEn and AmEn pronunciations.


Notes:

  1. 'Non-rhotic' varieties are ones in which the R is only pronounced when it's followed by a vowel.
  2. That R is often called 'linking R'.
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