pronunciaton of "rugged" as two-syllables, not consisten

I want to explain to my ESL student why we pronounce "rugged" as two syllables as an adjective, while we don't do the same with other one-syllable words ending in "--gged," such as tagged, plugged.   I think if we were to use "rugged" as a verb, it would only be one syllable, "the room was beautifully rugged" (something we'd probably never say).  The meaning of "rugged" changes with one syllable or two.  Any ideas?

Original Post

Sharon,

This is a good question.  I think you called it when you said

I think if we were to use "rugged" as a verb, it would only be one syllable

Your examples "tagged" and "plugged" are the past tense forms or past participles of the verbs "tag" and "plug", whereas "rugged" has no apparent connection to "rug".

If you think about it, the question should be:

Why aren't "tagged" and "plugged" pronounced with two syllables?

Words like "rugged", "jagged", and "naked" conform more closely to our general rules of pronunciation than verb forms ending in "-ed" do.

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Words like "rugged", "jagged", and "naked" conform more closely to our general rules of pronunciation than verb forms ending in "-ed" do.

We also have the adjective "learned" which, as we know, is pronounced as a two-syllable word as opposed to the verb "learned" (one syllable). I think the language must have developed the two-syllable pronunciation to make that difference.

When I teach the pronunciation of the past ending of regular verbs to my students, I always tell them that we only say /id/ when the verb ends in /d/ or /t/ (loaded, invited). Otherwise, the past ending will be pronounced as /d/ (after voiced consonsants, as in received) or as /t/ (after voiceless consonants, as in stopped).

These are very good points, Gustavo.  I should have said "than most verb forms ending in '-ed' do".

We also have the word "striped", which is pronounced as one syllable when used as the past tense or participle of "to stripe", but can be one or two syllables when used as an adjective (unlike "learned", which is always two syllables when used as an adjective).

DocV

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