Take these eight words:

pronunciation dispronunciation
machinery mə`ʃinərɪ mək`hɪnərɪ
vegetable `veʤɪtəbl vɪ`ʤitəbl
cutlery `kʌtlərɪ `kjutəlrɪ
implement `ɪmplɪmənt `ɪmpəlmənt
picturesque pɪkʧə`resk `pɪkʧəskɪu
anemone ə`nemənɪ `ænɪməʊn
hyperbole haɪ`p3bəlɪ `haɪpəbəʊl
disabled dɪs`eɪbəld `dɪsəbəld

You might hear any of them deliberately mispronounced, probably in a comic or sneering tone. Someone tasting a bad Scotch whisky might call it a MacHinnery, suggesting it was made in a mechanical way. To rhyme vegetable with uneatable is an eay way to complain to a waiter. In the same way to begin cutlery with cute or implement to sound like simple may have negative connotations. Picturesque in particular might be heard when somebody you don't like has shown you a photo of a beautiful sunset taken at their holiday villa, to which you say "Oh, very pictureskew!" Annie Moan may suggest contempt for gardeners, and Hyper Bowl for any sporting exaggeration. You might hear disabled with front stress from a bad-tempered driver hunting for a parking place. That is why I suggest calling them dispronunciations to suggest deliberateness.

Interestingly, the first four of the nouns are superordinate terms, likely to occur in the context: "Oh, why do we need all this/these ...?" which might justify the negative tone implied by the pronunciation.

If anyone can find more of these I would be interested to hear from you (marlodge1@gmail.com). But they would need to be well attested, eg from fiction or broadcasting.

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Page created by John Higgins on 21 July 2023, updated 25 March 2024.