Pronounciation: Is ‘fenta-nawl’ the new ‘new-cue-lur’?

Ever since fentanyl began its rise as the drug du jour, I’ve always pronounced it as I read it: ‘fen-tuh-nil’ or ‘fen-tuh-null’. But during grand jury duty last year, during which I heard at least 50 cases involving drugs of some kind, the pronunciation used by many of the DA’s, police officers, and witnesses was ‘fenta-nawl’. I even thought that perhaps there was a distinction, and that maybe fentanol was a street version, or cut version, or something like that. I finally got around to googling to find no such word as fentanol.

Words like “methyl” are (sometimes) pronounced with an -aɪl, but I haven’t heard that fentanyl falls into that category. Even if it did, -ol is a completely different suffix in organic chemistry, so my first guess would be that whoever you heard simply made a mistake.

Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but the majority of the dozens of speakers pronounced it with the -awl at the end. And I just heard a news broadcast in which the reporter also pronounced it that way, which prompted me to ask the question. That said, all of the examples are people from the NYC and NNJ area, so it could be a regional thing.

As long as they don’t try to negoSEEate, or measure things in SOHNtimeters…

It does sound to me like conflation with “-nol” ending words like “Tylenol” or “methanol.” The pronunciations listed in the dictionaries I’ve checked have either a short i /ɪ/ or a schwa at the end. I don’t see any listing of the pronunciation you described, even accounting for the cot-caught merger, in which some accents the last syllable would sound more like “nahl.”

I’ve heard anesthesiologists say fent-nil, sounding almost like a street corner pronounciation.

At least to me, an english speaker with the cot-caught merger, ‘nahl’ and ‘nawl’ are the same sound.

West coast Canuck here, me, too, sound-wise

Not sure if this is the right place for this, but: what’s with TOO-mer-ick, instead of TUR-mer-ick (as it is clearly spelled). Why do people skip over the “R”?

Because with a few exceptions people learn pronunciation from people, not spelling.

Why do people skip over the ‘R’ in February, the ‘K’ in knight, the ‘P’ in receipt…

Yes, that’s my point. I’m accounting for that pronunciation as well as my non-cot-caught merger pronunciation of “nawl.” None of the dictionaries I consulted offered either of those vowel sounds in the pronunciation of “fentanyl”, just the schwa and the /ɪ/. So no signs of /nɑl/ /nɔl/ or /nɒl/ (or similar variants), so just checking all the boxes and trying to be thorough with all variants of how “nawl” can be pronounced given the OP’s phonetic transcription.

Similar to hearing people mispronounce erythromycin “erythromyacin”, as though it got crossed with niacin.

It’s pronounced the way I described 3 times in this broadcast, although correctly a couple of times as well…

The woman’s pronunciation seems to be closer to a schwa at the end, but sometimes it does sound like it’s colored more towards the “aw” sound to my ears. The cop guy’s pronunciation does sound more like an “aw” there, though.

I’ve heard the fentanol pronunciation lots of times on the Fox News channel. However, none of them can properly pronounce Chavez, Buttigieg, or mischievous, either.

When I worked as an inbound call rep for medical testing firms, one of the fun things we got to do was sit in a classroom with a list of medications and practice pronouncing them properly. This was in 2015 and we were taught to pronounce it fentanawl. I questioned our instructor about that pronunciation but she said that’s how we were supposed to say it, end of story.

Because the R only appears to be there. It’s actually migrated over to “colonel,” where it lives full-time.

I was going to suggest that there is something that just feels awkward about those two “er” syllables in a row, but then I realized we have words like “murmuring” where it doesn’t seem to be a problem, and, in my own dialect, we insert an “r” into “sherbet” to make it sounds like “sherbert,” so who knows. (I was well into my 20s when I discovered “sherbet” didn’t have an “r” in its second syllable. I was convinced when I saw it written that way, that somebody was conflating “sherbert” with “sorbet,” but, after checking dictionary after dictionary and the freezer aisle, no, it was “sherbet.” I swear it was like a Mandella Effect moment for me: I would have bet my life the word was always spelled “sherbert,” but, no. Plain as day in the freezer aisle, all of them were spelled “sherbet.” So, like Flyer suggests, maybe there is some kind of “preservation of r” principle where if we take it out of one word, we gotta put it in another. :wink: )

“Turmeric” does still kind of roll of the tongue weirdly to me compared with “tumeric,” but I can’t explain why.

“R”'s disappearing (and sometimes appearing) in English isn’t exactly news: “The earliest traces of a loss of /r/ in English appear in the early 15th century…”

The same reason we pronounce it Cardamon instead of Cardamom.