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How To Pronounce Colonel

Basic Word Structure

The IPA transcription for this word is ˈkɜrnəl. There are two syllables in


First Syllable


The first sound in the first syllable is , which is a voiceless velar stop.This means that we make this sound with our vocal cords held apart and not vibrating, while raising the back of our tongue towards the velum, or soft palate of our mouth, in order to stop the air that is flowing through. Additionally, when a sound starts at the beginning of a word in American English, we aspirate, or follow the sound with a large burst of air.

The second sound in this syllable is , which is a low mid central unrounded vowel. The lips are not rounded when we make this sound, and the tongue is positioned with the body of the tongue in a central position, and with the tongue lifted somewhat higher than the center of the mouth.

The third sound in this syllable in . This is a voiced alveolar approximant consonant. It's created by raising our tongue near the the top of our alveolar ridge, without touching it, and allowing air to flow smoothly and without a lot of friction over it, while our vocal cords are vibrating. Many non-native speakers of American English want to touch their tongues to the top of their mouth while saying this, but this will produce a trilled sound. Since there aren't any trills in American English, this will definitely draw attention to your pronunciation, and if you are trying to make your pronunciation easier to understand, you should avoid touching your tongue tip to the top of your mouth when saying the sound.

The first syllable has primary stress. It is loud, longer, and has a higher pitch when said, compared to the second syllable.

Second Syllable


The first sound in the second syllable is , a voiced alveolar nasal. This sound is made by touching the alveolar ridge with the tongue tip while air is pushed through the nose and the vocal cords are vibrating.

The second sound is the vowel. The vowel is very centralized when it's said. The tongue is held centrally in the mouth and the jaw is neither fully open nor slightly opened. Additionally, the is the shortest vowel sound.

The last sound is the sound. The is considered a voiced alveolar lateral approximant. When making this sound, the tongue tip slightly touches the alveolar ridge and air flows over the sides of the tongue while the vocal cords vibrate.

This syllable has secondary stress. In comparison to the first syllable, it is quieter, shorter, and has a lower pitch.

Why Aren't There Two L's When We Pronounce Colonel?

Although the word colonel is spelled with two l's, it is only pronounced with . This has to do with the history of the word. When the word

arrived in the English language from the French word coronel, it contained one sound and one sound. This French word coronel was derived from the Italian coronello, but when after arriving in French it went through a sound change called dissimilation, where one of the l sounds was changed to an since it's a bit easier to pronounce. Later on, the French spelling of the word was revised to colonel, and the English spelling changes as well, but people continued to pronounce it with an sound.


The word

is pronounced with two syllables. Even though it's spelled with two l's, there is only one l in its pronunciation, and the first syllable contains an sound where you might expect to hear another sound. This is due to historical sound and spelling changes.

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