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I'm wondering which rule(s) causes the word Arabic to have it's first "a" pronounced differently than the first "A" in arachnid. You can hear samples on Dictionary.com:

I'm aware that some people pronounce them differently, but these samples show them the way I'm accustomed to hearing them, as Arabic [heir ah bick], and arachnid [ah rack nihd].

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  • It can be cultural - I've heard US speakers say AY-rab, oREGano, BAYsil, berNARd; vs UK Arab, oreGARno, BAsil, BERnad. [I don't speak phonetics, apologies] The schoolboy joke was that Americans always put the 'emPHARsis on the wrong syllARble' Nov 9 '14 at 19:35
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I think it's just the fact that in Arabic the first syllable is the strong one (i.e. the one most emphasized) while in arachnid, it's the second. Note that for the word Arabian, with one more syllable, the pronunciation of the first syllable becomes the same as in arachnid.

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