pronounce, pronunciation, *pronounciate, *pronounciation


New Member
Australia, English
Can someone please clarify the difference between pronunciation vs pronounciation? I say pronOunciation and others seems to say pronunciation. Is the pronunciation spelling American only? Have I invented 'pronounciate' as an extension of 'pronounce'?
  • Hi,

    yes, the correct word is pronunciation:
    Middle English pronunciacion, from Middle French prononciation, from Latin pronuntiation-, pronuntiatio, from pronuntiare
    : the act or manner of pronouncing something - pronunciational

    BUT: the verb is:
    to pronounce, pronounced, pronouncing

    French/English/Spanish speaker :)
    Yes, I'm one of those pedants for whom the much used (mis)spelling 'pronounciation' (sic) causes much gritting of the teeth each time I see it.

    However, I can't help wondering at what point sheer weight of usage becomes the defining fact when compiling dictionaries etc.? Should this spelling be added to dictionaries such as's own dictionary, or should it remain forever underlined in squiggly red?

    (And will that ever stop me gritting my teeth?) :)
    I've often heard people pronounce 'pronunciation' pronounciation in the UK.
    But I've never yet heard 'pronounce' pronounced pronunce.
    From a linguistic point of view, it would make sense to give the noun the same pronunciation as the verb. However, as we all know, what we do with language doesn't always make sense.

    Assume - assumption; consume - consumption; write - written; leave - left; for whatever reasons in the linguistic phenomenon, some vowels just change.
    Can someone please clarify the difference between pronunciation vs pronounciation?

    I'm late to this thread but I'm sure future readers will find it helpful.

    So the correct spelling is 'pronunciation' (without the O in the second syllable) and the correct pronunciation is /prəˌnʌn.siˈeɪ.ʃən/ not /prə'naʊn.sɪ'eɪʃən/. While 'pronounce' is pronounced /prə'naʊns/ and also has the O in the second syllable.

    So why both of them are different (even though they seem to have come from the same root and also have the same meanings)?

    If we look at their etymologies, they have come from different roots. Pronounce has O in its root while pronunciation doesn't have the O in its root (pronuntiare, I guess). It's clear from etymological perspective.

    Phonologically, 'pronunciation' seems to have derived from 'pronounce' by adding the suffix -tion. But if it's derived from 'pronounce' then why is its pronuncation different than 'pronounce' and where did the O go?

    It's because of a very common phenomenon called Trisyllabic Laxing. It's a phenomenon whereby a tense vowel (diphthong or a long vowel) gets laxed (shortened) if two or more syllables follow.

    Therefore we see word pairs like profane-profanity, insane-insanity, divine-divinity and derive-derivative etc. All the former words have a tense vowel while the corresponding derivatives have lax (short) vowels.

    - /prə'eɪn/ -> /prəˈfeɪnəti/
    - /ɪn'seɪn/ -> /ɪn'sænəti/
    - /dɪ'vaɪn/ -> /dɪ'vɪnɪti/ etc.

    'Pronunciation' is also affected by Trisyllabic Laxing and the removal of O is the result of that because in Modern English, the digraph <ou> represents the /aʊ/ and not the /ʌ/ (except in 'southern').

    Edit: There are many other words that lost some letters from their spelling due to Trisyllabic Laxing but I can only think of a few words:

    Profound -> profundity
    Maintain -> maintenance
    Explain -> explanation etc.

    (If anyone knows of such pairs of words, please let me know.)
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