As I looking for the pronunciations off word 'depreciation', I found that for the letter 'i'(first one), there are two different pronunciation. one is /i/ like 'ee' in bee, and another one is /ɪ/ as 'i' in bit.

Specifically, on www.thefreedictionary.com, the entry for depreciation lists

  1. (dĭ-prē′shē-ā′shən)
  2. (dɪˌpriːʃɪˈeɪʃən)

it seems that both of them is right and the /i/sound is more popular, is that right?

  • You need to provide your sources. It might not be a matter of which is correct, but which is used where.
    – Em.
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 5:15
  • thefreedictionary.com/depreciation I found it on this website
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 6:01
  • I assume you meant those two. Please edit your post if I have cited the wrong ones.
    – Em.
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 6:41
  • yes ,that's the two
    – Henry Wang
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 6:55
  • @HenryWang Just want to be sure, are you asking about the vowel of "de" or the vowel of "ci(a)" in depreciation? (If it's the latter, I'll delete my answer because I misunderstood your question.) -- After reading sumalic's answer, I think sumalic (and @Max) understands your question correctly. I've deleted my answer. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


Both are correct, but it's actually more popular to pronounce the first "i" in "depreciation" (the vowel in the third syllable) with the vowel of "bee."

Variation like this between /iː/ and /ɪ/ occurs in specific, predictable contexts: at the end of a word (usually written -y) or in an unstressed syllable before another vowel (usually written -i-). In these contexts, there is no contrast between these sounds, so they are often grouped together under the name of the "happy vowel." Traditionally in some British accents (including the prestigious "Received Pronunciation") words like "happy" were pronounced with the /ɪ/ vowel of "kit" or "bit." But Americans, and many British speakers nowadays, pronounce words like "happy" with the /iː/ vowel of "fleece" or "bee."

Geoff Lindsey wrote a blog article about it, "The fallac[ɪj]of schwee," where he recommends using the vowel of "fleece" or "bee" (ē or /iː/) for this sound even if you're trying to use a British accent.

  • @sumelic I note that you do not take the OP to task for referring to the Misbegotten Schwee in "one is /i/ like 'ee' in bee..." Does this mean that the battle is lost, that the schwee will ever be with is, or that it has supplanted /iː/? Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 2:00
  • @P.E.Dant: Well, "bee" actually has never been considered to have the "schwee" vowel (since it's a stressed syllable) so I assume that rather than using a three-way system of /i:/, /i/ and /ɪ/, the OP was just using a qualitative transcription, which leaves out vowel length markers. This implies a two-way contrast between /i/ and /ɪ/, with no schwee.
    – sumelic
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 2:16
  • @sumelic - So we have seen the end of /i:/. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 3:41
  • @P.E.Dant: not exactly. As the article I linked to above says, quantitative-qualitative transcriptions are actually more "standard" for British English. I get the impression purely qualitative transcriptions are more common for American English due to various mergers that have taken place that make vowel length less of a prominent feature.
    – sumelic
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 3:44
  • @sumelic - So /i:/ has not passed; it has been slurped up. I have noted, particularly in West coast NAmE dialect among suburban white youth, the merger of all unrounded vowels into one: Th/ɜ!/t's t/ɜ!/d/ɜ!/lly /ɜ!/ws/ɜ!/me! I refer to /ɜ!/, this melded all-purpose open-mid central, as the schwing, and predict that by 2045 it will be a dominant vowel in global dialects. Haro! Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 4:17

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