Isnaeni Achdiat
Capa as in Capacity and Capability
Why is the Capa is pronounced differently for each word above?

Jun 18, 2020 10:15 AM
Comments · 7
It's because of the stress patterns.

'Capability' is based on the adjective 'capable'. In both these words, the first syllable, 'cap', is long because it is stressed:
keɪpəb(ə)l/ and /keɪpəˈbɪlɪti/. The first syllable bears the primary stress in 'capable' and the secondary stress in 'capability'.

'Capacity' has the stress on the second syllable: /kəˈpasɪti/. The first syllable, 'cap', is unstressed and is therefore weakened to a schwa sound /ə/.

A couple of things to bear in mind:

Unstressed syllables are nearly always realised as either a schwa /ə/ - a very short, weak 'uh' sound - or a short /ɪ/. This is why the 'cap' in 'capacity' is pronounced as a short, weak /kəp/ as opposed to the stressed /keɪp/ of 'capable' ( or even the stressed 'a' sound in the one-syllable word 'cap', as in 'hat').

Remember that the spelling of English words is based on their etymology : the words 'capability' and 'capacity' are both derived from the Latin <em>capere</em>, meaning to take or hold: this is why they look similar when they are written down. Spellings tell us what the origins of the word are; they do not necessarily tell us exactly how to say it. Pronunciation is determined by the rules of phonology, including issues of stress patterns. The fact that two words have similar spellings does not necessarily mean that they have the same pronunciation. Likewise, the fact that two words sound the same does not necessarily mean that they are written the same way.
June 18, 2020
There's no rhyme or reason to it, I'm afraid. You'd be better off memorising the pronunciation of English words in their entirety instead of trying to break them down and analyse them syllable by syllable.
June 18, 2020
Som asked: <em>But what about the strange case of tough, through, though, cough and bough? * Which is Dr. Jekyll and which is Mr. Hyde?</em>

Pronounced: /tʌf/ /θr/ /ðəʊ/ /kɒf/ and /b/

No idea, but there are more demons to add to the bunch:

There's <em>thorough </em>and its evil twin <em>borough, </em>pronounced /ˈθʌrə/ in British English but /ˈθʌroʊ/ in American English.

And adding a 't' just thickens the plot: there's <em>thought, bought </em>and<em> wrought, </em>which bring in yet another sound: /θɔːt/. These, of course, sound identical to <em>taught </em>and <em>caught, </em>even though the spelling is different.

Thank goodness for IPA. (India Pale Ale, anyone?)
June 18, 2020
Welcome to English pronunciation.
June 18, 2020
I'm afraid that's just the way English is! If you think "capa" is bad, think about the "-ough" ending: enough, cough, through, thought, though, etc, etc.
June 18, 2020
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Isnaeni Achdiat
Language Skills
English, Indonesian
Learning Language
English