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A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English Hardcover – June, 1953

ISBN-13: 978-0877790471 ISBN-10: 0877790477 Edition: 2nd

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A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English + Speak with Distinction: The Classic Skinner Method to Speech on the Stage + Actions: The Actors' Thesaurus
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 542 pages
  • Publisher: Merriam Webster; 2 edition (June 1953)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877790477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877790471
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Samuel Kenyon (1874-1959) was an American linguist. He graduated from Hiram College in 1898 and taught there as a professor of English from 1916 to 1944, when he retired and became an emeritus professor until his death. Together with Thomas A. Knott, he wrote A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English (1944), still regarded as a classic guide to American English pronunciation. Kenyon had also earlier published American Pronunciation (1924) and served as the consulting editor of pronunciation to the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary in his career as a pioneering expert on the study of American English, which earned him the epithet "the dean of American phoneticians".


Thomas Albert Knott was a professor at the University of Chicago.


For more than 150 years, in print and now online, Merriam-Webster has been America's leading and most-trusted provider of language information. All Merriam-Webster products and services are backed by the largest team of professional dictionary editors and writers in America, and one of the largest in the world.

Customer Reviews

Excellent, if I would need another book I won't hesitate in buy here again, thak you for everything.
carlo
This is an excellent book for anyone who doesn't know how to pronounce some English words using a perfect American pronounciation.
Elena Morelli-Ferre
No language is stagnant and thus a 60-some-year-old dictionary is not doing current American pronunciation justice.
Stina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've used this as a required reference in over thirty years of teaching Voice and Phonetics on the college level. In all those years, I've found only three pronunciations that are incorrect and a handful of others that are a little more formal than are currently accepted in non-regional American English pronunciation.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stina on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I needed a dictionary of current American pronunciation for ESL teaching and I made the mistake of purchasing this item due to its high rating. If you're in the market for a dictionary which reflects current pronunciation stay clear of this one since it was published in 1943. No language is stagnant and thus a 60-some-year-old dictionary is not doing current American pronunciation justice. It's also lacking with regards to actual words listed (you won't find 'pizza' for example or any IT expressions obviously) and it's obviously not reflective of modern day predominant pronunciation. Contrary to what this dictionary will tell you, words such as cod, caught, bother, father, rock, and coffee (to name a few) are all today predominantly pronounced with the back vowel /a:/ in American English.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Perry on August 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book is a very useful tool for actors who are cleaning up their own speech and regionalisms. The key is correct (another reviewer is claiming it has an error)the pronounciation of the ending "y" is actually a "short i" (as in "it") sound not the "ee" sound that we so commonly hear today. And yes, pitted and pittied would be pronounced the same, that is not a mistake--merely a change in how we are accustomed to hearing them spoken today.

Who speaks like this? Anyone who wants clarity and sharpness when performing Shakespeare or speaking into a microphone. If you look at movies from the 40s in particular you will find this standard applied. You will also find a dialect coach listed in the movie's credits :)

Do we still use these pronounciations today? Sometimes not, language usage/pronounciation changes over time. What is considered "correct" changes more slowly as well. And certainly, some of the choices on pronounciation are rather classist, reflecting a preference for the Eastern US upper class. In general, we have collapsed a lot of vowel sounds and made them much more "slovenly", this book reminds us that it was not always so.

You need to have a good understanding of IPA to correctly use the dictionary. It makes a very good companion to any of the Edith Skinner materials on speech for actors. If your interest is in sounding "current" this may not be the book for you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Read Johnston on January 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The use of this dictionary is very, very helpful to speak or read aloud correctly. I have been reading words that I haven't used before, and have lived all my life in the United States. For anyone learning American English as a new language, this dictionary would be even more priceless. This Pronouncing Dictionary of American English is so much easier to use that a normal dictionary. With no definitions, it is very quick to look up words, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, that is used, gives such a simple, easy, clear way of how to speak a word. One example is:
psychosis - sai 'kosis
If a word is actually pronounced a little differently in the East (E) or the South (S), or elsewhere, that pronounciation is also given. This dictionary is a real "keeper".
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ingalls on March 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I began using this book, I questioned my pronunciations. It turns out, there are a number of errors in this book. This is an appalling state of affairs for a reference book put out by the Merriam-Webster company. Where was the editor? ... This is also 50 years old! Go with the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. It is far superior and was just updated in 2000.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elena Morelli-Ferre on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for anyone who doesn't know how to pronounce some English words using a perfect American pronounciation. It helps a great deal to some people whose English is not their first language and sometimes it is difficult for their audience to understand what they are trying to express in their speech. Furthermore, I think that it can also help some native Americans with some words that they don't know and they want to pronounce them correctly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Orange Blossom Meadow on August 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent tool for an ESL tutor. The word pronunciation guide makes American English as clear as it can be.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Janet Keys on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having used this book since college over two decades ago, I highly recommend it for anyone attempting to speak or research general American speech and often-used regional pronunciations. The book offers an American English word with the pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet. If a person wants to check the pronunciation of a word, it will be in this dictionary. As a teacher and consultant of speech, specifically the voice, for twenty years, this is one book I cannot be without.
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