The pronunciation of ‘Yale’

The senior administrative pronunciation of Yale appears to be [jɛl], definitely monosyllabic (not sequisyllabic) and the [l] doesn’t seem to be particularly velarised to me. My senior administrative sample is the President, the Dean of Yale College, the Dean of the Graduate School, the vice-Provost for Science and Technology and at least one professor of economics (most from different US dialect areas). The  Provost says [jaɪl] as a sesquisyllable but he also has an Oxford accent. My sampling will continue at faculty meetings throughout the year.

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8 responses to “The pronunciation of ‘Yale’

  1. Fascinating. You should write a squib about this topic when you have sufficient data.

  2. notes are being kept…

  3. Petréa Mitchell

    For some reason this brought back the last panel of an early Dilbert cartoon for me.

    Pointy-Haired Boss: So, Sven, I hear you went to Yale.
    Sven: I joost got out last week.

  4. Petréa Mitchell

    Agh, spelling correction to the previous since I didn’t hit the stop button fast enough…

    Pointy-Haired Boss: So, Sven, I hear you went to Yale.
    Sven: I yoost got out last week.

  5. Add two more senior faculty…

  6. I’m most intrigued by the quality of the vowel. Does this mean that for these senior faculty members, Yale and yell are homophonous? Do they contrast tale and tell? (For me, those pairs are definitely distinct.)

  7. I don’t know, but I’ll try to introduce these words in conversation. I’m finding that my own pronunciation of Yale is getting closer to ‘yell’, although it hasn’t merged yet. I don’t know if it’s just the low F1 of the y-glide having an effect on the following vowel…

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