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I notices that some people will pronounce the word, "either" in one of two ways. The first one is accentuiating e and pronouncing the e like one would were they saying the word, "each". The other is way I have heard people pronounce either is by pronouncing the word like one would if either were spelled "ither".

Is it just an accent difference? If so, which regions pronounce it which way?

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  • I think this belongs in the "English Language Learners" room.
    – fdb
    Jul 3 '15 at 19:04
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    Yes, there are two different pronunciations. One is /'iðər/ and the other is /'ayðər/; anyone can use either pronunciation. Similarly neither can be pronounced in the same two ways. Jul 3 '15 at 23:55
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    A song about it :-)
    – Lucky
    Jul 4 '15 at 0:23
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    There was a really funny skit done by "The Two Ronnies" back in the late 70's/early 80's where they reported statistics on the percentage of the population that preferred each pronunciation. It went along the lines of 30 percent preferred "eether", and 30 percent preferred eyether, 15 percent preferred eether eether or eyther while 10 percent preferred eyther eether or eyether. 5 percent preferred nyther neether nor nyther while another 5 percent preferred neether neether nor nyther ... I've looked many times for this skit on youtube but have never found it.
    – Jim
    Jul 4 '15 at 2:29
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It would appear that "ither" is a verbal contraction.

Generally, when spoken, a stress is placed upon the "either" and the "or", in order to emphasise the options. In which case your first example would be audibly correct.

However, when spoken at speed, then the emphasis on the "either" may be lost, somewhat, and may come across as sounding like "ither".

Even so, the correctly "paced", or "cadenced", version of the same sentence would sound like either.

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    I think OP's spelling ither is intended to reflect /aɪ/ rather than /ɪ/ Jul 4 '15 at 1:39
  • @StoneyB - yes, the more that I read, I tend to agree. I will ameliorate/delete my answer the morrow... Thx.... :-) Jul 4 '15 at 1:53
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I would say that in American English, ee-ther is more common, and in British English, some forum posts* say eye-ther is more common, while others* and a ELU.se answer say it's sort of equal between the two. A couple of forum threads on this matter seem to concur.

*(1, 2)

However, the forum posts mention that some Americans use eye-ther and some British use ee-ther. I concur - I am American and I believe I hear ee-ther more often, though I have heard Americans use eye-ther in the past.

On another ELL.se question similar to this, the top answer concurs, saying that both are correct, though ee-ther is more common in American English.

This ELU.se question may be something you'll find interesting as well, as it concerns the etymology of the pronunciation of either.

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