Have you ever wondered why the word ‘Tomato’, is continuously pronounced differently? Instructor Gideon of LetThemTalkTV explained the reason as to why ‘tomato’ is being pronounced differently by people world wide. He explained why the word ‘tomato’ has different pronunciations in British English and American English, but not the word ‘potato’.
The pronunciation of tomato and potato tells us a lot about the history of English and its irregular spelling. In this video we’ll look at the great vowel shift and other influences on English pronunciation.
It is believed that this shift in pronunciation happened due to the
‘The Great Vowel Shift’. GVS took place primarily between 1400 and 1700 and is believed to have essentially changed the pronunciation of the English language.
During the GVS period, similar pronunciations across the English language where provided for words. However, those words which falls outside the GVS were open to interpretation.
“So before the great vowel shift, it would have been pronounced like ‘potahto’ after the Great Vowel Shift. It gets changed to ‘potayto’. What about tomato? Well, tomato came into English from Spanish in 1753. That’s too late for the Great Vowel Shift. So it was fixed as ‘tomato’; however, there was a kind of mini vowel shift in the 18th century in and around London. Remember, the vowels are always changing to a lesser or greater degree. And this changed some vowels and some words and imitated earlier phonetic changes.”