How do you pronounce "Capital" "Capitol"

In another thread one of the posters mentioned that a Jeopardy contestant said “Capital” rather than “Capitol”.
I guess I would have lost too. I would pronounce both as Cap-it-ul.

I say them both exactly the same, with a schwa sound in the last syllable.

I pronounce them the same way too. I thought everyone did.

Link for reference?


Subtly different, at least to my ears the building has a shorter, lower pitched, more gruntlike final syllable, the city has a more open, higher vowel.

But ISTM it would really depend a lot on regional dialect. (That’s when speaking English, of course. If I’m using Spanglish for effect then it’s obvious.)

Yeah, furryman, I’d like to see a link for reference as well.

On the TV show, the Final Jeopardy round is written instead of spoken - could that have been it?

But they don’t penalize you for bad spelling in final Jeopardy.

As for the pronunciation of those two words, I say them exactly the same.

I see a difference between what is clearly misspelling (e.g. automabile for automobile) and presenting a different word that has a different meaning.

Exactly the same.

Also, if the post you’re talking about is this one, it is not mentioned that the answer was spoken.

I tried quickly searching through the j-archive, but I wasn’t able to find a question/answer that matched. I tried looking for “What is the Capitol” and two final jeopardy questions showed up, but nothing that indicated a misspelling (the answers were completely wrong in both cases.)

Nope. But IME, with these words as well as many others, people who do pronounce them the same often can’t hear the difference in others. Not sure which way the causality works there.

I pronounce them differently. Capital has a ‘-tle’ sound (like in kettle or whatever), while capitol has a more pronounced ‘-uhl’ sound.

FWIW, both on and, the pronunciations listed are the same. only lists one pronunciation for both, but (Merriam-Webster) has both the two-syllable and three syllable versions. In all cases, the final vowel is a schwa. This, of course, does not reflect personal and regional variations, but they’re generally considered to be pronounced the same.

And just a reminder. . . it’s obvious from the link, if the recollection is accurate, that this was ‘Final Jeopardy’, which is written, and the pronunciation angle is irrelevant.

Doesn’t mean that some people don’t pronounce them differently, but not relevant to ‘Final Jeopardy.’

Spelling only matters in Final Jeopardy if it does change the pronunciation. I would really like to see evidence that someone lost Final Jeopardy for spelling “capital” instead of “capitol.”

In England they would be pronounced differently. Capital like it’l and capitol like toll, though the difference might be pretty subtle.

I don’t know which way the causality works but the phenomenon is real enough. For example, the standard plural for house is the irregular houzes, but where I grow up it was regular as houses. Now I use them interchangeably and do not notice the difference. On the other hand, in my native dialect, the modal “can” is pronounced differently from the ordinary noun (and verb) “can”. I hear the difference strongly, but most people do not. What is cause and what effect?

That’s how i pronounce them as well.

It may be because capitol is a foreign word for me - we have parliaments and legislatures in Canada, not capitols.