What are the differences between the pronunciation of bidet in American English, and British English?

The last part of the word sounds like the pronunciation of day, in both the cases. I don't understand the differences for the first part of the word.

Are there other words that have the same differences in the pronunciation?

  • 2
    As a Brit, I say BEE-day, but this site says Americans say bi-DAY. Nothing unusual there. Americans often stress different syllables and pronounce things oddly - witness Iraq/Iran Feb 26 '13 at 4:01
  • 3
    I agree with @FumbleFingers- as an American I say bih-DAY (bih as in big, bid, billow) unless I'm emphasizing the French pronunciation in which case I might say bee-DAY.
    – Jim
    Feb 26 '13 at 5:41
  • Beaches & bitches again
    – mcalex
    Feb 26 '13 at 11:29
  • 8
    Most Americans don't often use or encounter the word bidet. Feb 26 '13 at 22:49

The difference is that with bidet, as also with words like ballet, beret, buffet, café, cliché, and debris, in North America the stress falls on the second syllable, while Britain favors the first syllable in each of those words.

Wikipedia calls this “French stress”, and has quite a long list of these. A few of those are wrong, though, like for example négligée, which is stressed on the first syllable in both but which receives secondary stress at the end in North America.

  • Just to be clear "French stress" for French speakers is universally "a slight elongation of the final syllable in each rhythmic group" (much weaker than English stress in English words or in the borrowed words). In the Wikipedia article "French stress" only means "Stress (in English) of French origin words"
    – Merk
    Sep 30 '13 at 7:48

French has much lighter syllable stress than English does. In French, all the syllables have equal or almost equal weighting, whereas in English almost all words have emphasis on the first syllable (with exceptions, of course, because English is good at pronunciation exceptions).

On neither side of the Atlantic do we pronounce the word as it would be spoken natively: in Britain we ignore the foreign emphasis entirely and stress syllables the same as we would if it were an English word (i.e. put emphasis on the first syllable); whereas in American English the difference (of the foreign word from English) is emphasized, so the emphasis comes on the final syllable: bi-DAY, bu-FAY, etc.

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