Saturday, 23 October 2010

chameleonic pronunciation (3): for instance

In normal colloquial General British the phrase 'for instance' is pronounced /fər ˈɪn(t)stən(t)s/. In case you want to sound pedantic, say /fɔːr ˈɪn(t)stən(t)s/. In casual, rapid speech it may become /fr ˈɪns(t)əns/, and in very casual enunciation it may be reduced to [frˈn̩s(t)n̩s].


  1. Personally I don't like the vagueness of "rapid" applied to speech coz speech tempo tends to vary a lot even within quite short utterances. Rapid 'articulation' can be employed by a speaker for as little as a couple of words at a time. "Rapid speech" suggests to me longish stretches that are hurried. As to the version /frɪnstns/ I dont think it need sound either rapid or casual but is a natural conversational usage whose form can be prompted by the fact eg that the speaker doesnt want to give it any weight or importance. I know this is not the sort of comment one finds in the textbooks.

  2. I'm glad to read that JWL accepts the existence of the four versions (including their variants)of 'for instance'. Personally, I wouldn't have made much fuss about the applicability of the label 'rapid'. I can't imagine someone saying /frɪnstns/ in an otherwise largo speech tempo. In other words, the version /frɪnstns/ presupposes a certain degree of rapidity. This may include what JWL likes to call "natural conversational usage".

    I call 'casual' any stretch of speech which either was uttered by some speaker without previously thinking about it or which gives the impression of being informal.