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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?

Oh dear. This is one that just can't be answered without IPA.

Let's get some things out of the way:

1) No such thing as 'correct' pronunciation. Lots of accents of English and so single standard one.

2) Personal names are notoriously variable.

3) But there are some conventions.

In the UK, the most usual pronunciation of 'Aaron' is /ˈɛːɹən/ and of 'Erin' /ˈɛɹɪn/. That means that 'Aaron' starts with the same vowel as most of us use in 'air' and 'Erin' with the same vowel most of us use in 'egg'. But 'Erin' can also begin with /ɛː/ or with /ɪə/ (our vowel of 'ear').

In the US I believe that 'Aaron' can indeed be pronounced as /eɹɪn/ (beginning with the vowel you use in 'egg'), so being identifical with the most usual pronunciation of 'Erin', which is also /eɹɪn/. And I would rule out an /æɹən/ possibility for 'Aaron' in the US either (same vowel as you begin 'add' with).

Hope this does explain it...


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

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