Pronunciations to recognize

diving-694611_640A few weeks ago I discussed the verbs recommend, represent, resurrect, recollect, reminisce. In these verbs, natives pronounce the re- with the ‘open e’ sound [ɛ] of red, dress, etc, so recommend begins like wreck. Non-natives often get this wrong by giving re– the more usual pronunciation of words like reaction.

Those verbs all have the main stress on the last syllable: recomménd, represént, resurréct, recolléct, reminísce. I’d now like to draw your attention to verbs which are similar except that they have the main stress on the first syllable.

Key examples are récognize and réconcile. Again, non-natives often get these wrong, not realizing that in native speech they begin like wreck:

There’s a fairly small number of such 3-syllable verbs beginning [rɛ́]. Half a dozen of them end in -ate: rénovate, réplicate, résonate, rémonstrate, rélegate, régulate.

To these we can add réctify and a few words which are both nouns and verbs, eg réprimand, rémedy, régister, régiment:


Further notes

In English regiment has a different final vowel depending on whether it’s a noun or a verb: the verb has mɛnt, but the noun has the little colourless vowel schwa, mənt.

Historically, all the above words except regulate, regiment and rectify contain the Latin prefix re- meaning ‘back’ or ‘again’. John Wells wrote a detailed blog post about the prefix re- in English, here.

As Alex Rotatori reminds us (in the comments below), the last syllable of reprimand has the long PALM/START vowel in Standard Southern British. In the clip above I use the TRAP vowel, the historically older form, still used in Northern England and North America, and which is an acceptable alternative standard form. Here’s the SSB version: