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How To Pronounce Turmeric

How To Pronounce Turmeric

While

has been known and used as both cooking and medicine for thousands of years, knowledge of its many benefits has been spreading like wildfire and more people than ever, particularly in the West, are eager to add it to their diet to enjoy its many benefits. But, how do you pronounce it? Let's do a breakdown of its pronunciation!

General Phonological Structure

There are three syllables in the word

. We can separate them like this:

tur-me-ric

The first syllable of

has primary stress, and the second and third syllables of
are unstressed.

Let's take a look at each syllable in more detail.

First Syllable

Tur /tɜr/

The in this syllable should be pronounced with aspiration; say it with a big puff of air. The vowel in this syllable is . It shouldn't be pronounced like , which is made with wider lips. is pronounced with the tongue in the mid-lower portion of the mouth, with unrounded lips that are neither tight together nor spread very far apart.

This syllable ends in the sound. Make sure to purse your lips together raise your tongue upward in the middle of your mouth. You can point it to the roof of your mouth, or curl it back very slightly, but don't touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

This syllable has primary stress. It is longer, louder, has a higher pitch, and contains a vowel that does not occur in unstressed syllables, .

Second Syllable

Mer /mər/

This syllable starts with the sound, which is made by pressing your lips together while pushing air through your nose. The second sound in this word is the unstressed vowel . This sound is very common in English, but non-native speakers often don't use it and instead produce a very clear distinct vowel. Often, if a word is spelled with the letter "e", they might pronounce it with the vowel or diphthong, but you should instead use the vowel, which is made in the middle of your mouth. Also, keep in mind this is the shortest vowel sound, so don't say it for too long.

This syllable ends in the sound. Make sure to purse your lips together raise your tongue upward in the middle of your mouth. You can point it to the roof of your mouth, or curl it back very slightly, but don't touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

This syllable is unstressed. It is shorter, quieter, has a lower pitch, and contains the schwa, a vowel that only occurs in unstressed syllables. For more information on schwa, check out our article on the schwa.

Third Syllable

Ic /ɪk/

This syllable starts with the vowel. Many non-native speakers of American English are likely to not have grown up using this sound and will substitute the sound instead. Although the vowel and vowels are both high front vowels, the sound is pronounced with lips that are spread apart, while the sound is pronounced with lips that are held closely together, so make sure to pay attention to the position of your lips when you are making this sound.

The second, and final sound in this syllable is , which is a voiceless velar stop. This means that is pronounced by stopping the air through raising the back of your tongue to top of your velar palate without vibrating your vocal cords.

This syllable is unstressed. It is longer, louder, and has a higher pitch.

Wait, I hear people pronouncing this differently!

You might hear people all over the place pronouncing this word differently than I have described. Instead of saying

, they are saying
, pronouncing the first two syllables the same as
. The pronunciation that similar to
has become popular in the media recently, however various culinary sources show that standard pronunciation uses as the vowel in the first syllable and has an which is fully pronounced. In American English the sound is generally fully pronounced, unlike in British English. For these reasons we recommend using the /turmeric/ pronunciation.

Summary

Turmeric is a three syllable word that has primary stress on the first syllable. If you are a non-native speaker, you might want to pay attention making the first syllable long, louder, higher pitched, and with a nice clear epsilon sound, and making the following syllables shorter, and quieter in comparison. The second syllable, /mer/, contains the sound, so try to make a sound in the middle of your mouth and avoid using a distinct, longer vowel (particularly ) when saying it. Turmeric is often heard pronounced as

, and while we prefer not to be prescriptivist, our suggestion is to opt for the [ˈtɜrmərɪk] pronunciation that we have discussed here.


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