It may seem odd for the pronunciation of this very word to be an issue; the pronunciation of pronunciation
should be evident from its spelling. The vowel in the second syllable is u,
said as in the word up.
It is not the diphthong ou,
as in ouch.
However, for some people, the impulse to retain the sound pattern of the familiar verb pronounce
is too strong to resist, and we hear this word said as if it were spelled p-r-o-n-o-u-n-c-i-a-t-i-o-n
all too frequently. All this is a reminder that the entire subject of “correct” pronunciation is fraught with controversy. Changes from what we heard growing up are often resisted with surprisingly passionate scorn. And yet we know that language is constantly changing, and that many pronunciations once attacked as ignorant are now accepted without question in even the most educated circles. For example, we hear [skiz-uh m] /ˈskɪz əm/ (Show IPA)
as well as the older [siz-uh m] /ˈsɪz əm/
and [fawr-tey] /ˈfɔr teɪ/
as well as the historically correct [fawrt] /fɔrt/
for the sense of forte
meaning “something that one excels in” (see Pronunciation note at forte1.
). And stress patterns change with new generations: increasingly, [kuh m-pair-uh-buh l] /kəm pɛər ə bəl/
is overtaking [kom-per-uh-buh l] /ˈkɒm pər ə bəl/
Language experts seize the opportunity to note and study these changes; language innovation can be fascinating--even exciting. But some deviations from the current norm will not
become part of an accepted standard, and as long as the way one speaks remains a marker of one's education, or one's ability to perform well in school or in a prospective job, it is best to avoid misguided pronunciations like [pruh-noun-see-ey-shuh n] /prəˌnaʊn siˈeɪ ʃən/