What's with the different pronounciations?

Several years ago, I noticed how everyone started pronouncing harrasment as "harris"ment during the Clarence Thomas hearings in the early 1990’s. Now, I hear “demonstrative” pronounced as one would say “demonic.” Yet, I pronounce it as one would pronounce the root word “demonstrate.” What is causing this new pronounciation? Should I start spreading my “Doc Brown” pronounciation of “giga”?

I can’t answer your question, but I remember “harrassment” being pronounced as “harrisment” in the early 1980s (on one of the early morning talk shows). WAG: “Sexual harrassment” was becoming a part of the lexicon, and some sanitation was needed.

Similarly, a local radio personality once recounted the story of one of the managers he had worked for in the distant past. This manager was very sensitive about words that sounded bad. His staff were directed to say “gyrocopter” instead of “helicopter,” and became really upset when he could not find a way to sanitize a local story about a dam that had either been breached or was needing some serious repairs.

In any event, it’s a free bump!

People who pronounce things in such a way seem to be from You-rain-us.

I don’t think ‘demonstrative’ starting with a d’mon sound like ‘demonic’ is new. All my life I’ve heard it said it that way, and I’m 36. Out of interest, how do you pronounce ‘demonstrable’?

However, I do start the word ‘harrassment’ in the same way that I start ‘harrass’. I’ve never really accepted ‘harrisment’. That one only started when I was maybe high school age though.

I pronounce it the way you do, but I’ve heard “demonstrable” pronounced with the “demon” part rhyming with “lemon” and the second part sounding like “struhble” (meaning, an “uh” sound instead of an “ah” sound).

I’ve personally taken to pronouncing Uranus as Oo*-rahn-Oos in order to get rid of that ridiculous snickering once and for all.

  • An IPA u not a long o, think “Oo ee oo ah ah” from Wooly Bully

[nitpick]I believe you’re thinking of Witch Doctor by Alvin and the Chipmunks.[/nitpick]

(Song starts @ 2:12)

You’re correct, I got it confused with the title of This one which involves both a Witch Doctor and Alvin and the Chipmunks, but after looking it up recalled it wasn’t what I was thinking of.

Cool! I never knew about the Alvin & the Chipmunks version of Wooly Bully. Thanks for the link.

The correct spellings are harass and harassment - just one “R.”

Please note that the word has been around rather longer than you’ve been alive. HARass and HARassment are the older, traditional pronunciations. While harASS and harASSment are accepted alternatives, they are the relative newcomers here.

I’m sorry, I should have addressed this first.

It is not a new pronunciation, it’s actually the older pronunciation which is experiencing a revival in popularity.

D’oh! You’re quite right, of course. I took a wrong turn at DoubleLettersville and got stuck.

Hmm. Now I’m unclear as to which pronunciation you’re going with. At first I thought you disagreed with mine, then I thought you agreed with it, and now I think you’re indicating something else altogether. For what it’s worth, I don’t particularly labour any of the syllables; I pronounce it something more like h’rassmnt, because I am both lazy and Australian. (It’s a *killer *combo.)

Anyway, the main point I was making was in relation to the OP’s question about the change in pronunciation of ‘demonstrative’. The OP suggested it was a recent thing (compared to ‘several years’ of ‘harrisment’), and I have personal experience that the pronunciation has been around longer than that, even for this lazy Australian.

I humbly bow out of this discussion though, as I also took a wrong turn at MPSIMS and somehow ended up in GQ. It’s not my usual hangout, and I’m not entirely sure how I wound up here. Careless mousing, I suspect!

And another one for the record: “pronounciation” should be pronounced (and spelled) “pronunciation”. :slight_smile: “Announce” and “renounce” have similar offspring.

And don’t get me started on mischievious. :slight_smile:

Indeed, in RP, it has been traditionally, since the 1700s sometime, with the first syllable accented. However, upon checking several dictionaries of yore I have lying about, there’s a mixed message on which is preferred and which is alternative. I guess the easiest way I can answer this is to evaluate which you prefer more: hearkening to traditional pronunciations such that the first syllable is accented, or going with what most of the current dictionaries suggest is the preferred pronunciation.

It seems that most young, educated folks are going with the stress on the second syllable. So, either is acceptable.

So this guy probably never said “hello” to anyone and settled on “hi”, “greetings”, or some other greeting. Did he ever ask for help getting the Hellman’s mayonnaise jar open? Could a meeting ever be held over by him? How could a guy like this even be at the helm?

Did damp or damaged things bother him? Did he ever travel to Amsterdam or talk to guys named Adam? Was he this adamant about sanitizing his language?

Astronomers have confirmed the presence of a ring of debris around Uranus. :eek:

I think people are more tolerant of pronunciation varities. And if a word has two “correct” pronunciations, the “cooler” one often resurrects. Especially with talk radio and cable news being what it has become.

In my day (the 70s) my teachers in English insisted their way was right and every other way was wrong, not inferior or alternative but out and out wrong.

When I learned cursive in 3rd grade, my 6th grade teacher refused to accept the way I made an “F” and “Q” in cursive and would hand back my assignments (that had to be written in cursive of course) until I did it the “correct” (read: her) way

In my day teachers would correct you. But with the start of the Ebonics flap, over the years that method of teaching went away. In otherwords people and educators begain to believe that Ebonics or other such variations of English aren’t “inferior,” but legitimate dialects and shouldn’t be looked down upon.

You may or may not agree with that, but that is what it has become.

In Chicago, “finna” (short for “fixing to”) or the ask pronounced as “aks (ax)” and such were argued and now are accepted as mere dialects of English.

So the media and for a lack of a better term, poltical correctness, have contributed to this tolerance of variations we didn’t have in the past

I noticed that before the Falklands War, people said “Argenteen”, but during and after, they started saying it “Argentyne” (rhymes with fine). I guess they picked it up from newscasters, who had to be careful about their speech. I have no idea nor do I care which is “correct”.

Lately I’ve noticed newscasters pronouncing Pakistan as “Pockystahn”, like the Pakistanis themselves say it. Pakistan had a perfectly reasonable and stable English pronunciation that everyone knows, but it apparently just isn’t good enough any more. Likewise for Spanish names. NPR is the worst at this. Now they always have to say “Tee-hwana” for Tijuana instead of good old “Tee-a-wanna”. It’s as if they’re afraid we’ll think they don’t know it isn’t pronounced “Tee-a-wanna” by Mexicans. It’s very selective, too - they always pronounce Mexico itself as any other English-speaking person would - never “Me-hico” or however Mexicans say it.

The funniest is Nicaragua which comes out Nic-hrach-ach-hwa as though they are spitting and vomiting at the same time.

I don’t know if this is weird, but depending on the situation, I pronounce it both ways. In a formal or educated setting, I pronounce it HAR-iss-ment. But when I’m joking with friends, it’s har-ASS-ment. And until this moment, I didn’t even think about that I was doing it.

But puberty is never poo-berty.