7

I have heard people pronounce the word sword as either

sord with the 'w' being silent

or as

sword with the 'w' pronounced, like "ss-wOrd"

Which pronunciation is correct?

  • The first one (silent), typically. There are some accents where the "w" contributes some sound to the word though it's usually not fully voiced. – Ben Jan 16 '16 at 2:20
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    Some native speakers might occasionally pronounce it with the w- sound just to be funny just because the w is there; and 99% "natives including me, don't know why we don't pronounce the w in sword. – GoDucks Jan 16 '16 at 3:37
  • What does your dictionary say? – rogermue Jan 16 '16 at 11:09
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    See Why is the 'w' silent in “sword”?. Also, the two words answer and, well, two have silent w's. Compare sward in which the w is pronounced. Basically, I think, the w was pronounced in sword, two and answer a long long time ago, but they are not anymore, but once the printing press came along, the spelling got standardized with a silent w. – GoDucks Jan 16 '16 at 16:54
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    This is surely a much more interesting and involved question than, say, How do you pronounce 'egg'? – GoDucks Jan 16 '16 at 16:58
12

"Sord" is the correct pronunciation. "C-word" definitely isn't correct. However, I can see why you'd be confused.

The "w" in "sw" in this case is silent. However this isn't always the case. Take the word "swore" for example. It is pronounced as "sw-ore."

This is one of the things that makes English so hard to learn.

7

You will find that all good dictionaries include pronunciation. For example, the Wiktionary entry for sword shows that there are up to four different pronunciations of this word, all of them with a silent "w":

  • General American: /sɔɹd/
  • Received Pronunciation ("typical" British): /sɔːd/
  • rhotic, without the horse–hoarse merger: /so(ː)ɹd/
  • non-rhotic, without the horse–hoarse merger: /soəd/

I was brought up in Australia, and I pronounce the word /sɔːd/ (soohd, with a long "o" and no "r"). An American might pronounce it /sɔɹd/ (sord).

It is a common enough word that all native speakers will know how to pronounce it. Sometimes we pronounce the "w" to be funny, such as words are stronger than the sword (usually the pen is mightier than the sword) to emphasise the similar spelling of words and sword, however, we know that the person who said it has humorously mispronounced it.

If you are having trouble reading the pronunciation symbols, they are explained on Wikipedia on International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects which includes eleven variants of English from around the globe.

This sort of question can be easily answered by checking a dictionary. If you still have questions after consulting one or a few, write a question saying "Dictionary X says this word is pronounced ???, Dictionary Y says this word is pronounced ??? but I'm still confused about ???" and be clear about how you have tried to find the answer yourself and what you still don't understand after reading the information you found. You might ask "Every dictionary I've checked, (X, Y, & Z) says that the 'w' in 'sword' is silent but I've heard some native speakers pronounce the 'w'. Why is that?"

2

"Sohrd" is the correct pronunciation.

Dictionaries traditionally provide pronunciation guides as the first part of the entry.

The Oxford English Dictionary provides phonetic pronunciation guides and sound recordings of native speakers pronouncing words.

Pronunciation is often as distinctly different between English and the American dialect as word choice is.

However sword is pronounced 'sohrd' the world over.

Examples of words beginning 'sw' where the 'w' is pronounced: 'swashbuckling', 'swat', 'swallow', 'swan', 'swerve', 'swell', 'swim', 'swoosh', and 'swung'.

I haven't been able to think off-hand of another word where the 'w' is silent, when following immediately behind an initial 's'.

The only ones I have so far are words with a preceding syllable, such as boatswain, (which is now often spelt "bo'sun" or "bosun") and coxswain.

  • 5
    There's just no anSWer to that..... – Magoo Jan 16 '16 at 6:48

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