Why is “t” sometimes pronounced like “d” in American English?

Why, in American English, is the word Italy is pronounced /ˈɪdəli/ and not /ˈɪtəli/? What is the rule that is followed in the pronunciation of Italy to make the letter t pronounced like a d? Why is the same rule not followed for Italian, which is pronounced /əˈtæljən/ or /ɪˈtæljən/? Answer First two questions: The … Read more

Origin of the word “boner”

What is the origin of the word boner? Trying to find the roots for its prevalent usage, especially in North America. According to a dictionary it means an erect penis. Answer When I was growing up in the 1980s the word “boner” was also used as a synonym for “jerk” or “idiot” among adolescent and … Read more

What does ‘ten of six’ mean in regard to time?

I am referring of course to the expression describing time. Today a corporate trainer (From north Philadelphia) that is teaching a class at my company used it in the context that the current time was ‘ten of six’ (5:50PM), but I have always thought of it as ‘ten of six’ (6:10PM). Which usage is correct? … Read more

“Spelt” vs. “spelled”

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” wrong. Answer From Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary: spell (FORM WORDS) /spel/ verb [I or T] spelled or UK AND AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH ALSO spelt, spelled or UK AND AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH ALSO spelt This means that you should say “spelled” in US English and … Read more

Which is the correct spelling: “grey” or “gray”?

What is the difference? Or is there any? Which would be more British English? Answer The British National Corpus has 5445 cites for grey and 1092 cites for gray. The Corpus of Historical American English, on the other hand, paints the following picture: (X axis: year, Y axis: incidences per million words.) After seeing these … Read more

Is there a difference between “arse” and “ass”?

From a comment here, in frequent usage, arse and ass are often interchangeable when used to refer to buttocks or to a person of dubious charms. However, although “to arse about” has a vague connection to “make an ass of oneself”, many of the threads of meaning derived from arse are not present in ass. … Read more

How should a (North American) Native English Speaker prounounce the word ‘Afrikaans’?

I’ve always had trouble with the word ‘Afrikaans’. I could say it the way South Africans say it, but then I’m not sure if I’d just be saying the word with a South African accent. After all, I don’t pronounce ‘Spanish’ as ‘ESS-PAN-YOLLL’. So how do people pronounce it? Answer The pronunciation of “Afrikaans” differs … Read more

What is the proper plural of the word “freshman”?

Would it be proper to say freshman students, freshmen, or freshmen students? Edit: It is worth noting that I have since learned it is more acceptable in educational circles to use the term “first-year students” instead of “freshmen”. Answer Both “freshmen” and “freshman students” are correct, but “freshmen students” is wrong. I think “freshmen” is … Read more