How do [i]you[/i] pronounce this?

from a making fun of Americans thread, andygirl pointed out that:

My response:

So, dopers, let’s hear it. How do you say the above three (or six) words? Is there a difference, or do those Noreasterners need to stop inventing vowel sounds? Is it just select words, or do Californians butcher vowels in a standard way?


Me: Bear-ee
Mrs. S: Baa-ree (baa, as in what sheep say)

We each accuse the other of mispronouncing it (ain’t we just the cutest couple ever?)

FTR, we were raised about 65 miles from each other.

I pronounce them all the same. (at least I think I do)

I live in California, but I come from Ohio.

You’re kidding, right?
marry rhymes with carry

Mary rhymes with Kerry. They’re both names. You don’t pronounce “carry” and “Kerry” the same. None of my Western friends pronounced “marry” the same as “Mary”.

Although my Utahn friends did pronounced “Spanish Fork” as if it was spelled “Spanish Fark”.

Ummm…Chicago checking in…Speaking for myself:

Marry, Mary & Merry

I pronounce the first two the same, and the third with more of an “eh” than a short “a.” But sometimes I pronounce all three the same.

I also pronounce “carry” and “kerry” the same; Here’s the question: Do you pronounce “Carrie” and “Kerry” differently? I don’t.

“bury” is “berry”, but not “barry”

Incidentally, there are maps somewhere (I can’t remember where I’ve seen them) mapping out the States and whether these words have one common pronunciation, or two or three different pronunciations.

Marry rhymes with carry or tarry
Mary rhymes with hairy
merry rhymes with berry.

What the hell?!? I’m so utterly confused.

“Marry me!” and “The Wind Cries Mary” are pronounced the same. “Merry Christmas” is different and the beginning sound is more like “Mir” as in the space station.

Who pronounces Barry as Bah-ree. Unless you’re British or something. It’s Bear-ee. Just like a raspberry.

And how are carry and kerry pronounced differently anyway?

If anything, this might be a midwestern thing. Because I’ve had to conciously teach myself that bin and ben are not pronounced exactly the same. Same for pin and pen.

Ditto what robinc308 said.

But carry, berry and hairy all rhyme with each other. So, that makes no sense. At least to me it doesn’t.

Mary and marry are the same: you pronounce the “a” sort of “ayh”, not “ay” or “ah”, but somewhere in between.
Merry has an “e” sound - “meh-rry”.

I pronounce them all the same (or extremely close to the same)

I live in Ohio, but I come from California.

A few
sites worth reading.

Other questions…Do you pronounce “wear” and “where” the same? I do. Not everyone does. How 'bout “weary” and “wary”?
Is it a “pail” or a “bucket”…“See-saw” or “teeter-totter?” “Tap,” “faucet” or “spigot”?

And let’s not even get started on the variations of “submarine sandwich”…

Central Indiana here. In my mouth, merry and Mary are just about the same. They rhyme with airy. Marry, though, gets a short a, almost like in bat. I know several people who say bury as “burr-y.”

The view from the old world is…

Marry = mar(as in spoil)-ee
Mary=mare(as in a female horse)-ee
Merry=mer (as in the second syllable of America)-ee

To me, this is also what robin308 said. But its great crack pronouncing carry, berry and hairy so that they all rhyme - when I do it I sound like your woman off ‘Married with Children’.

Australian checking in.

Marry: Maah-ry (Maa, like Baa)
Mary: Mare-y or M-heir-y (draw out the mare part)
Merry: Meh-ry (softer than Mary)

Barry: Baa-ry (like in Marry, like a sheep, baa).
Carry: Caa-ry (really nasal sounding “a”)
Kerry: care-y or k-heir-y

Those last two can be confusing. Mum told me my Aunt moved to Mary Street and I couldn’t find it on the map until she pointed out Merry Street. They’re very close, just a slightly longer sound on Mary.

LOL, now this is fun :slight_smile:

Wear and Where - yes, pretty much the same. Slightly more effort in Where to get the “h” sound in, but barely noticable.

Weary and Wary - nothing alike, not even close. Weeiry and wherey are the most accurate definitions I can make.

Not a pail - a bucket.

Not a teeter-totter - a see-saw.

Not a faucet or a spigot - a tap.

Not a diaper - a nappy.

Not a pacifier - a dummy

Not a bum - a tramp

Not a fanny - a bum

Don’t use the word “fanny” in Australia - you’re likely to offend someone. It’s not a Fanny-Pak, it’s a Bum-Bag. A fanny-pak would have to be exclusively female and sit in front if you get my drift…

Not a vacation - a holiday

Not a crib - a cot

Not a biscuit - a scone

Not a cookie - a biscuit

“Chook” is another word for “chicken”. eg “We’re having roast chook for dinner”

“Dunny” is another word for “toilet”.

Every time I post to a message board, I have to translate from Australian into American. Sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes it’s harder because I have no idea that they don’t have what I’m talking about, or that they have a different name for it. I’m getting there, though I’ll never be able to hang out on US based recipe sites.

What the OP is asking about is what phoneticists call **“r-coloring.” ** In English, the sound of [r] is made by a retroflex position of the tongue—the tip of the tongue bent up and a little backward. This placement of the tongue affects the vowel that precedes it. Some dialects have it, some don’t. Some have it more, some have it less. This accounts for the variations described here.

Born and raised in Ohio, I pronounce all three the same. The vowel in all three is the open [E] as in “met.” The r-coloring has reduced the originally 3 different vowels into one.

In Boston, so I understand,
“marry” has the flat [æ] sound as in “matter.”
“Mary” has the close [é] sound as in “mate”.
“merry” has the open [E] sound as in “met”.

The Allegheny Mountain ridge in central-western Pennsylvania has been identified as the boundary between the dialect areas where to the east the 3 vowels are different, and to the west they’re all [E]. The r-coloring has moved the /æ/ sound forward, and the /é/ sound downward, so that they meet in the middle which is [E].

When I drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I notice how Allegheny Mountain seems to form a natural boundary. After going through the tunnel, the weather is often different on one side from the other. Perhaps the flora and fauna are slightly different too. When you travel through there and see the lay of the land, you get a sense of how it could form a dialect boundary too.


Marry Barry Carry Marie = ahrry
Mary Hairy Fairy Dairy Wary = airry
Merry Berry Kerry Ferry = erry
Bury Hurry Furry Worry = urry
Weary Teary Eerie = eery

All different.

I pronounce them all the same. The same way I pronounce “Murray”.


Born and lived in New Orleans until age 29 :

marry => has the flat [æ] sound as in “matter.”
Mary => has the open [E] sound as in “met”.
merry => has the open [E] sound as in “met”.

Barry => has the flat [æ] sound as in “batter.”
bury => has the open [E] sound as in “bet”.
berry => has the open [E] sound as in “bet”.


where, ware, and wear are perfect homophones. Weary is “wee-ree”, wary is “ware-ree”.

Not a pail - a bucket.

Not a teeter-totter - a see-saw.

Not a tap or a spigot - a faucet .

Not a tramp - a bum

Not a fanny or a bum – a butt or an ass

And most importantly …

While one may “pop” a balloon, or take after one’s “pop”, one cannot drink “pop”. There is no real generic name in New Orleans for “soda” or “pop” – you must call either call it by brand name, or refer to them as “cold drinks”.