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
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').
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.)