Owe Mo
Pronouncing of chocolate or comfortable


do you know why we drop "o and a" in the word chocolate (choclate) or the "o and r" in comfortable (comftable). 

I would really like to now if there are any rules of pronouncing these kind of words.

Thank you very much in advance for your answer :)!


weiß irgendjemand wieso dass o und a bei chocolate nicht ausgesprochen wird?

Gibt es da irgendwelche Regeln die man bei der Aussprache von Wörtern beachten muss?

Danke im voraus!

Mar 28, 2017 9:42 PM
Comments · 6

There's no answer to "why."

Although in my experience it's rare, in the United States people sometimes do pronounce the second "o" in chocolate (as a schwa). As a matter of fact, the American Heritage Dictionary online is showing me:

chôkə-lĭt, chôklĭt, chŏk-

so they apparently think chôkə-lĭt is the most common pronunciation.

In an entire 30-minute History Channel program about Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey's Chocolate, the narrator pronounces it as chôkə-lĭt throughout. One occurrence is at about 1:45.


Furthermore, in books--especially those written before 1950 or thereabouts--you will sometimes see the word spelled as "choklit" or something similar in quoted dialog, showing that the author believed this was non-standard or ignorant pronunciation--the correct pronunciation doubtless being chôkə-lit. A 1915 novel, for example, as a child saying:

"I don't s'pose he did ezackly," the child confessed. "But I was so afraid no one would want to paste pictures bad enough to come out today, that I promised 'freshments for all and a prize for the one who made the best book and Evelyn's got it. Evelyn, you better open up the box and treat the rest of us. A choc'lit drop would taste pretty good after working so hard.

I am almost sure that pronunciations such as "pleez" (for please), "choc'lit" (for chocolate), "veg'table" (for vegetable) were once considered ignorant, incorrect pronunciations that have now become standard.


March 29, 2017

Hi Owe, In both words, the schwa sound can be uttered but can also be dropped (in the ways you indicated). Schwa sounds never carry stress and so they are vulnerable to being dropped altogether in some words, especially longer ones. There are no rules I know of.  You just have to listen and repeat.

Probably Americans don't say "comftable" because they generally sound their "r"s when they appear before other consonants.

March 28, 2017

In English we have a pronunciation that changed throughout the time based in an old and almost static orthography. Because of that there is a huge difference between pronunciation and orthography.

Regardint to the R sound, in British English this sound is not pronounced at the end of syllables. For example, the contraction "aren't" is pronounced like /ˈɑrənt/ in American English, but like /ɑːnt/ in British English.

March 29, 2017

In the US, the most common pronunciation of "comfortable" includes the R sound but has only three syllables: kumf--tər--bəl.

And, yet again, the American Heritage dictionary say I'm wrong--that's the least common of the three listed. The most common is four syllables, with the "R" pronounced; next, three syllables, without the R, the way Michael Chambers says the British say it. And the way I say it--three syllables, with the R, is the third listed.

com·fort·a·ble  (kŭmfər-tə-bəl, kŭmftə-bəl, kŭmftər-)

March 29, 2017
That is the nature of the English language... a long time ago people used to say cho-co-lat and because of their accent and lack of education it slowly evolved into chaw-co-let and then just chawc-let. We could have invented a new spelling : "Choclette" or something.  BUT chocolate was introduced in Europe by the Spanish, so we copied their spelling. There are a lot of cases like this in English and SOMETIMES there is a good reason for it... but mostly it is because english has a lot of loan words from other languages and when the printing press was invented we all decided to use the original spelling of the word (usually latin) because it looks better. For example "island" comes from German, English people never pronounced the "S". When writing became more common a few centuries ago, they went with the French-derived spelling (isle) because perhaps they assumed "eye-land" was a Latin/French derived word even though it is from the German "Eiland". Thousands of mistaken cognates later you have the written English language. Makes for some interesting  history and a pain for English learners, I imagine.
March 28, 2017
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