Reader survey: how do you say “asked”?

One more note on the subject of “Do I actually speak English?” I learned from reading How Not To Be Wrong aloud that, even when I’m speaking slowly and carefully, I pronounce the word “asked” as “ast.”  (At least, that’s my preferred transcription; I concede that “assed” might be more faithful.)  Is that what all native English speakers do, or is it a regionalism?

Hmm, this post from the invaluable englishforums.com has a description that matches what I do very closely:

“asked” is not pronounced /ast/, although it may seem that the ‘k’ is missing when you hear it.
By placing your jaw, teeth, tongue, etc. in the proper position for saying the ‘k’ you can create a sort of pause at the point where the ‘k’ occurs. This makes it sound different from /ast/, even if the ‘k’ is only present in a sort of hidden way (no release or aspiration of the ‘k’). Pronounce /ask/, stopping in the ‘ready-position’ for saying the ‘k’. But then, instead of finishing the ‘k’ sound, say a ‘t’ at the end!

See also.

And here’s a discussion in which the characters on How I Met Your Mother are separated into those who pronounce the k in “asked” and those who don’t.  (Only one does.)

How do you say “asked”?

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Reader survey: how do you say “asked”?

  1. eppstein says:

    For me (western US accent) if I’m speaking carefully it’s “askt”. You know, like “act” but with an “s” and a slightly different vowel (the same one as in “pass” and “past”). If I’m speaking informally it might come out “ast”, though.

  2. Saul Glasman says:

    I’ve also talked to people who say “axed”.

  3. aetropolski says:

    I definitely pronounce the k, and now that I’ve said it aloud a dozen times it sounds absurd. Then again, my native tongue is Bulgarian, so I’m used to strange consonant combinations (the word for bread is along the lines of “hlyab,” said as one syllable).

    In reference to those who say “axed,” I wanted to add that one of my favorite Onion headlines I’ve read was “Ask Murderer On the Loose.”

  4. Tina says:

    I think I say “asked” with the “k” sound, but now that you’ve asked, I’m not sure anymore. Here’s a fun piece on the pronunciation of “ask”: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/03/248515217/why-chaucer-said-ax-instead-of-ask-and-why-some-still-do

  5. Nick Addington says:

    There’s a British expression “I can’t be arsed,” as in “I really ought to check that this has the expected dimension but I can’t be arsed,” but for a long time I couldn’t tell if it was that or “I can’t be asked.”

  6. Ben Golub says:

    Learned to speak in Queens and Central New Jersey, and definitely say ‘ast’.

  7. arithmetica says:

    ‘ast’ for sure!

  8. Peter says:

    Brit here, who spent some years in the states: that quote from englishforums describes what I do quite accurately, I think. In a few circumstances (esp. when *asked* is either specifically emphasised or followed by a vowel) I may come closer to fully articulating the *k*, but of course it’s hard to accurately self-assess this sort of thing…

  9. JBL says:

    The headline aetropolski mentions was actually “African-American Neighborhood Terrorized By Ask Murderer,” a reference to the fact that “ax” is the usual pronunciation in African-American Vernacular English.

  10. David Bryant says:

    I always say “ask”, and “asked” (although the latter may come out “askt” when I’m speaking quickly).

    I’d chalk this up to many years of choir practice: “we must all enunciate, enunciate, enunciate — our consonants clear, crisp, concise, and co-ordinated, our vowels smooth and euphonious”.

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