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I always used to pronounce knowledge, vintage, college and so on with -ədʒ at the end. Now I've noticed that according to Wiktionary they are pronounced -ɪdʒ. So I tried changing my pronunciation.

But then I stumbled upon advantage on Wiktionary which supposedly ends with -ədʒ. Is this correct? Can they be used interchangeably?

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    Most native US speakers would hear only the tiniest shade of difference in the final syllables of vintage and vantage. The final syllables receive very little emphasis and are very brief. My best advice: forget there's even a vowel there; think of it as -tdʒ. Nov 8 '14 at 11:58
  • Northern UK English, I wouldn't differentiate them at all; all would be -ɪdʒ to me. Southern UK English would definitely separate vintage & advantage almost as far as -eɪdʒ Nov 8 '14 at 12:45
  • @Tetsujin No, it would definitely be /ɪdʒ/ in Southern Standard British English. Nov 8 '14 at 13:52
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    @Araucaria Listen to the commentary at Wimbledon to hear advantage as -eɪdʒ ;) I'm exaggerating, but it to me sounds closer to stone-age, space-age, advantage, than -ɪdʒ Nov 8 '14 at 14:02
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Both the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (2003) and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2008) give the final syllable of knowledge and advantage as /ɪdʒ/. Cruttenden, in Gimson's Pronunciation of English (2001.108), in talking about the frequency of /ə/ and /ɪ/ in terminations, says that /ɪ/ remains dominant in the -age suffix [in BrE].

That's what trained phonetician with access to sophisticated sound recording and analysis equipment say. We lesser mortals with untrained ears are not so sure. I, with some training in phonetics but nowadays without access /to spectrograms, am not certain whether my final syllable in these words has the /ɪ/ or /ə/ phoneme. I suspect that it ranges between the two.

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The difference between "knowledge" and "advantage" can be explained using pronunciation keys, but it might help to think of it like where the emphasis is placed on the word.

Saying "knowledge", the emphasis is placed on the first of the word's two syllables. That means you say it a bit louder and the rest sort of trails off, giving the impression of a -ədʒ sound.

Saying, "advantage", there are three syllables. The first and third are less pronounced, while the "van" is more emphasized. For me, this results in a more of a -ɪdʒ sound.

I think @TRomano hit it on the money when he said to think of it like -tdʒ. In real conversation, the differences between these pronunciations shouldn't matter.

EDIT: Just wanted to add in that this is coming from the US northeastern shore. EDIT 2: One does not technically say -tdʒ, but thinking of it as running together might give you a better idea into how it's pronounced in fluent speech.

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    Saying, "advantage", there are three syllables. The first and third are more pronounced, while the "van" is less emphasized. Really? I would have said exactly the opposite - much more stress on van than on the other two syllables. (AmE, Greater Oregon)
    – Adam
    Nov 18 '14 at 19:40
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    @Adam You're absolutely right; I don't know what I was thinking. It's been corrected.
    – ZX9
    Nov 18 '14 at 20:28
  • If you say -tdʒ at the end there'll only be two syllables. At that point you'll definitely be misunderstood :( Nov 20 '14 at 19:06
  • @Araucaria It's not really two syllables... It's more of a guideline. I will make that more clear, though.
    – ZX9
    Nov 20 '14 at 19:33

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