I am often asked the following question when working with English pronunciation, “How do I pronounce the word ‘world?’ ” Because of the spelling it is tricky!
Is it: world /wɔːrld/ (American) , /wɔːld/ (British/Australian) or world /wɝːld/ (American), /wɜːld/ (Brit/Aussie)??
If you picked the 2nd lot where the ‘or’ says ‘er’ you were right.
So here is the secret: When an ‘or’ has the ‘w’ letter right before it, the ‘or’ changes and is said as a stressed ‘er’ /ɝː/ (American), /ɜː/(Brit/Aussie). So when you want to know how to pronounce ‘wor’ in a word, you actually need to say ‘were’, and then add the rest of the word. For example, ‘world’ is said ‘wereld’.
(Some main exceptions are – worn, wore- in these words the ‘or’ is pronounced ‘or’ as in form.)
I have prepared an audio lesson for you below so you can practise how to say ‘world’, and other English ‘wor’ words correctly.
How to Pronounce ‘world’ and other English ‘wor’ words – word list:
world /wɜːld/ (British and Australian) /wɝːld/ (American)
worry /wɝːr.i/(American ) – for the British and Australian pronunciation the ‘er’ is said as an ‘u’ as in ‘cup’- worry /ˈwʌr.i/
Best wishes, Esther
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