Why do Americans pronounce centaurs "centars"???

Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
I've been mulling over the OP's question, and I think it's just that the "proper" pronunciation of "centaur" — something approximating the Latinized Greek word centaurus, after having gone through the antiquity-to-medieval-to-modern wringer (i.e. ken- > chen- > tsen > sen-TAU-roos) — as "sen-towr", with that diphthong now in an unstressed syllable and flanked by consonants like it is, is just super awkward in English.

And so most people are going to collapse that aʊ sound into either an unrounded "a" or a rounded "o" — and that's how you get "SEN-tar" and "SEN-tore". With the stress on the first syllable, there's some acceptable variation in how that last vowel gets pronounced (or glossed over and mumbled, as the case may be). And since the word isn't frequently in common use, there's no standard.

Backing this hypothesis up, I hear both "MIN-ə-tar" and "MIN-ə-tore" with about the same frequency. But dinosaur, which is a much more commonly used word, is always "DINE-ə-sore," never "DINE-ə-sar" (at least in the Great Plains and Midwestern dialects of American English that I'm routinely exposed to).

Then again, maybe there's just something about that diphthong, because nobody I know pronounces "taurus" (either the constellation or the vehicle) as "TAU-russ." It's either "TAR-us" or "TOR-us" — usually the latter, such that "taurus" and "torus" are basically homonyms in American English. ("Me? I drive a Ford Torus. Yeah, the cabin volume is 2π²r²R, what of it?")
 
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I do realize there are major differences between American and British English, though I admit my defense of my country's spelling is lacking color and seems on the anemic side and I have failed to fulfill my patriotic duties, even though this thread has swelled in a quite edematous fashion. I personally find linguistic differences marvelous and would never have dreamed of seeing them go away.

Fun fact: the term 'a language is a dialect with an army and a navy' has as its most obvious counterexample the US and UK--both are separate countries with quite competent armies and navies and are still considered to speak the same language.
Other fun fact: the original version seems to have been a Yiddish scholar talking about his own language in 1945. His people would get their army and navy, but speak a different language!
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Right now, the only thing stopping me from making a filk of L’trimm’s “Cars with the boom” into “Centaurs with the boom” is I can’t figure out why centaurs would be associated with anything vaguely “boom” related.
 


GreyLord

Legend
I don't think US Americans pronounce Centaur as Cen-tar.

It is pronounced more like Cen-Ta-ur. So that would be Sin-Tah-Uhr.

It is NOT pronounced like the US Americans pronounce Dinosaur (Di-No-Soor).

Albeit, the Canadians may pronounce it that way (as I think indicated by @FitzTheRuke above me states...Sin-Toors or Sin-Toh-Ars.

Edit PS: As long as we are on spelling and speaking...things that confused me when I was younger...probably from switching back and forth between the UK and the US at various times...

Is it color...or colour?

Is it Center...or Centre?

Drove me nutty at times.
 





I don't think US Americans pronounce Centaur as Cen-tar.

It is pronounced more like Cen-Ta-ur. So that would be Sin-Tah-Uhr.

It is NOT pronounced like the US Americans pronounce Dinosaur (Di-No-Soor).

Albeit, the Canadians may pronounce it that way (as I think indicated by @FitzTheRuke above me states...Sin-Toors or Sin-Toh-Ars.

Edit PS: As long as we are on spelling and speaking...things that confused me when I was younger...probably from switching back and forth between the UK and the US at various times...

Is it color...or colour?

Is it Center...or Centre?

Drove me nutty at times.

My guess this is very regional. Like Aunt, drawer, and similar words. Things are pronounced differently in different parts of the country
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Epic
In America we do not speak English, our language is a mash of every European language and others from around the world that we then call English. God, forbid we add in regional accents.
 


MGibster

Legend
In America we do not speak English, our language is a mash of every European language and others from around the world that we then call English. God, forbid we add in regional accents.
This is false. Per the terms of the Treaty of Washington (1871), the United States became the seat of proper English. This was a concession made by the British for allowing Confederate warships to be constructed Liverpool. This ultimately paved the way to the Great Rapprochement were the two great nations recognized the political, economic, and military objectives they shared in common.
 



aramis erak

Legend
Why do Canadians pronounce about 'aboot'?
The Quebeçois influence? Wait, that would be "aboo" (noting the silence of the final consonant...)

I've always heard minotaur as either "MEE no tar" or "MIN o tar", and only from the UK have I heard it "MY no ta-ur"

More seriously, looking at what I've seen on TV shows from Aussies, the US, Canada, and the UK...
The US seems closer to the Aussies and South Africans than to UK RP (Received Pronunciation), let alone to all the funky dialects across the Island.... Even Scots pronunciations seem closer, even if the vocabulary isn't...

How in the bloody hell do y'all in the UK get anything done with all those nearly unintelligible dialects?

In US English, the aur trigraph is very close to "ar"... most of the US lacks the Rhotic shift which seems to have infiltrated Massachussets and UK RP
 

Mezuka

Hero
The Quebeçois influence? Wait, that would be "aboo" (noting the silence of the final consonant...)
Wait, what? I've never heard a Canadian pronounce 'about' 'aboo'. Quebecois has no influence on how canadian pronounce words. Except maybe english Canadians who live in Montreal, who say 'I'm taking the metro' instead of taking the subway. 🙃
 



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