Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Ask a linguist - Message details

Subject: Pronunciation of Aaron vs. Erin
My sister named her son Aaron. She is adamant that his name is pronounced with the ''a'' sound as in ''apple'' rather than with the ''eh'' sound which she says is exclusively for the girl's name ''Erin.'' From my research it seems that England and Australia as well as parts of New York, New Jersey and New England support pronouncing these names differently, while in the rest of the U.S. (particularly the Midwest) these names are pronounced exactly alike. Is there a ''correct'' pronuncation and does that correct pronunciation call for them to be pronounced the same way?

Your research is accurate. NE US speakers do tend to have a three-way contrast before /r/ in the words "Mary" /e/, "merry" /ɛ/, and "marry" /æ/. In my Midwestern, specifically Inland Northern, speech, I have only the second of these vowels in all three words. whether "Aaron" and "Erin" also contrast in the NE, I don't know. Her contrast may be a spelling pronunciation or may represent the same sort of contrast going back a long time. Both sets of vowels are "correct". It depends on where you're from.

Reply From: Herbert Frederic Stahlke     click here to access email
Date: Mar-08-2007
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Pronunciation of Aaron vs. Erin   James L Fidelholtz    (Mar-09-2007)
  2. Re: Pronunciation of Aaron vs. Erin   Anthea Fraser Gupta    (Mar-08-2007)
  3. Re: Pronunciation of Aaron vs. Erin   Elizabeth J Pyatt    (Mar-09-2007)

Back to Recent Message