Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J. K. Rowling has announced an upcoming stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As I explain in the video, the word cursed can be pronounced as one or two syllables. The two-syllable version is rather old-fashioned and means either ‘bearing a curse’ or ‘deserving to be cursed, annoying’. On the other hand, the one-syllable form of cursed ends in a t sound which my be omitted when followed by a word like child, making cursed child sound like curse child. (Think of firs’ class and wors’ case scenario.)

Which pronunciation do you prefer, one syllable or two?

Further notes

More precisely, t and d may be dropped from the end of a word when the next word begins with a consonant and the t or d is preceded by a consonant with the same degree of voicing. The way to remember this is with the pair firs’ class, secon’ class. The t may be lost from first because both it and the preceding s are voiceless (or ‘fortis’). The d may be lost from second because both it and the preceding n are voiced (or ‘lenis’).

The stressed vowel of cursed is the NURSE vowel, a long schwa, which is also the English hesitation vowel.  The unstressed vowel may be either schwa or the KIT vowel ɪ.


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