A while ago, I asked this question: Is the diphthong /aʊ/ generally realized as [ɑʊ] in British English? [closed] (now closed). I did not receive any answer which is fine but I don't see why this is opinion-based. In the question, I am asking if the diphthong phoneme /aʊ/ is generally realized as [ɑʊ] in British English (I apologize for using such a vague term as "British English", but I'm sure it is understandable that I am talking about the accent known as "Modern RP" as most of the pronunciation question that ask about "British English" are about that particular accent).

Did the close-voters actually read and understand my question correctly or did they just threw their votes randomly? Can anyone explain why?

(NOTE: there are so many questions which are not only vague, but really opinion-based and are still open.)

  • The question has been re-opened. Thanks to those who re-opened it.
    – user387044
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 5:29

1 Answer 1


I think "opinion-based" generally means "there are a large number of answers which are possible and all of them will answer the question in some way or other." Which answer is given and accepted is purely subjective.

Pronunciation is not standard, even within what might be termed "RP". Narrowing it down to "Southern British" is not particularly exact, as many people in southern counties will pronounce a word like about with (what I approximate as) [øu] rather than [aʊ] or [ɑʊ].

Asking about "British English" is even less specific, as while many south of, say, Nottingham will pronounce singer with /sɪŋə/, many north of there will say /sɪŋgʌ/ or even /sɪŋgʌʳ/. Indeed, even sing has [ŋg] in Birmingham and the Black Country, and maybe elsewhere.

Your current question (What will happen if I attach the suffixes "-ize" and "-ify" to a word that end in /ŋ/? Will they make it [ŋg]?) is similarly afflicted. It may be possible to generalise, but how someone pronounces a word they haven't seen before is really a matter of idiolect, and any answer is likely to be generalising from the particular. [Admittedly it does help to narrow down to /sɪŋə/ because that is restricting to a particular existing pronunciation which may influence how novel words are pronounced.]

  • 10
    "A number of different but correct answers" is not the same as "subjective". If a possible response is 'It depends', then it's not subjective at all, there is a pattern that can be described, it's just more complex than yes or no. If "A number of different but correct answers" is closable as opinion based, then the entire question/answer format of Stack Overflow is opinion based.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 15:56
  • 5
    Following up on @Mitch's comment, in the cases of this kind it is wrong to even say that the question has 'a large number of answers which are possible'. Rather the question has exactly one correct answer; it's just that the answer has complex structure, such as 'in region A the pronunciation is X; in region B, the pronunciation is Y, except in social circles C, in which the pronunciation is Z, etc.'. A question that can be answered in this way is very different from, say, 'Which pronunciation of this word is the cutest?', which would indeed deserve to be closed right away.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 22:25
  • 3
    I would disagree it has exactly one correct answer, because linguists can disagree about phonetic transcriptions, so even if you have two people listening to exactly the same thing they may disagree on how to transcribe it, particularly in cases involving diphthongs.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 13:53

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