I know the correct pronunciation of sword. I also know that at least some blacks pronounce the w in it. (Mahalia Jackson certainly does in her marvellous rendition of the song Down By The Riverside.) As the word existed in Old English, it is highly likely that the w was commonly pronounced in those days. What I don't know is how common it actually is to pronounce the w today and whether this pronunciation is confined to African Americans only. Is the w pronounced in any American or British dialect spoken by white people as well? In New Zealand or Australia?

What about former US or British colonies in which English isn't spoken by all, such as India or the Philippines, for example? Thank you for your replies.

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here in Canada we say it like sohrd, we don't pronounce the W and sometimes you see some people, specially children spelling it like SORD. Americans pronounce it like that as well. I think it's the standard pronunciation. I don't know how the English and Australian people woould say it.
The standard pronounciation is without the 'w' sound.

Perhaps that singer just had her own special way to sing it!
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There's not much on the net, but someone seems to say it with the W too. It seems to be extremely rare though. It might be a "personal" mistake too, that is, a weird way of pronouncing a word that all the others around you don't share. I once read that a guy had always pronounced "iron" as "eye-run", and he knew he was the only one but he'd never understood why. By the way, I have always pronounced "iron" as "eye-run" too, because here in Italy people are stupid and everyone always mispronounces it that way (100% of Italians, no exception), they teach it that way, and don't have a clue native speakers don't actually say it that way. Geez.

It's not only foreigners who mispronounce words in English. Even here in Canada we hear people mispronouncing words. Of course, it's not often but it happens. A word that people here misuses all the time is the verb To lie, they mix it up with To lay all the time. Other mistake that I usually hear is that of people using span as the past of To spin, when actually, the past form is spun.

As for Iron, I've said my whole life eye-arn, and I think this is the standard pronunciation, like tired, we don't say tay-red, we say tay-ard. Some things just can't be explained, maybe they misspelt these words long ago, only God knows.

And sword is another example, if we don't pronounce the letter W, why isn't the spelling sord or soard, like board? it'd be more logical.
But I, myself don't rember ever having heard someone pronouncing the W, maybe in cartoons just to make it funnier for kids, I don't know.
C ya.
rafaelinrioIt's not only foreigners who mispronounce words in English. Even here in Canada we hear people mispronouncing words
Mispronouncing isn't what I had in mind. Just a different pronunciation. I am versed enough in English to know that virtually everything that passes for modern English is mispronounced and ungrammatical if we compare it with what was standard English 1,000 years ago. No no. I wasn't looking for a mispronunciation at all. I was just interested in the way people pronounce the word. To me mispronunciations are rare or virtually nonexistent as far as native speakers are concerned. Everything is pronounced either correctly or incorrectly, depending on who's judging. Pronunciations change, spellings change and grammar changes. I'm not saying that Mahalia Jackson mispronounces the word. I'm just interested to hear if anyone else pronounces it the way she does. I'm interested to hear how common her pronunciation is.

Maybe the African Americans aren't connected to the web?

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Well, I do consider some "mispronunciations", and those are part of the "odd features that don't belong to a specific variety of English. One example was pronouncing "iron" as "eye-run" in a community where no one else pronounces it that way. Those mispronunciations are actually the things that sound funny for real to other people around you.
Anyway, did you hear that from an African American? Well, since I don't think most native speakers have actually heard many African American say "sword" (that's not a common word, not as common as gun or knife at least), maybe it's possible it's used by some speakers of AAVE. Words can be quite different for them... One example I have in mind is... I think I heard African Americans pronounce "business" without the z-sound: biniss. And final d's can be left out, so'll you hear them say "beh" instead of "bed". So yeah, everything is possible.
Cool BreezeMaybe the African Americans aren't connected to the web?
Yeah, I tink we ain't got any black brothers here in de forumz. It a pity, cuz some experts on Ebonics might be useful, y'know wum sayin? Emotion: smile
KooyeenAnyway, did you hear that from an African American?
Hi Kooyeen

I have said twice that Mahalia Jackson pronounces sword that way in her version of Down By The Riverside. She is the best-known black gospel singer in the world.

I know I'm replying to an old thread. Anyway, there's at least one further example, and that's RZA in the song "Samurai Showdown" (Ghost Dog soundtrack); that's why I've done a search on the topic of pronunciation of sword, which brought me here. Might really be an African-American thing, then?
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