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How do you pronounce debut?

Feb 22, 2011

Recently we had a query about the pronunciation of the word debut. The Macquarie currently gives three different pronunciations, but which is (more) correct?

The editor explains:

The pronunciation of debut is interesting because there was a well-established pronunciation in English that matches the first one given in the Macquarie Dictionary. However there are now a number of variations on this theme in a number of different varieties of English. In Australian the third pronunciation we give has a high frequency. I don't know that it can be said to be more or less correct than the first. The stress pattern matches the pronunciation in French so that might be regarded as more correct, but the vowels are different.

In general in the dictionary the pronunciations that are given as variants are acceptable pronunciations that have a reasonable frequency in the community as a whole or in sections of the community.

If there is any comment to be made about reservations people might have about one or the other that would be done in a usage note. In this case we have simply recorded the possible acceptable variants without further comment. But the 'day-byoo pronunciation is a much older English pronunciation.

Other dictionaries provide the following options:

  • The OED gives 'day-boo and 'day-byoo.
  • The Australian Oxford gives 'day-yoo and de-'boo.
  • The American Heritage gives day-'byoo and 'day-byoo.

How do you pronounce it?

Do you say 'day-byoo or day-'byoo or 'day-boo or de'boo?

Or perhaps another way?


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