What’s the name for when a word changes its pronunciation because of how people read?

With greater literacy in the past 100 years, most English speakers are also proficient at writing. Sometimes due to the great divide between English spellings and the true pronunciation, people will say words phonetically if they haven’t heard them in speech before (particularly foreigners, but native speakers too).

Where words aren’t often used in speech but people know how to spell them English speakers pronounce the word phonetically, even though it’s technically “wrong”.

My question has 2 parts. The first refers to words like cache, where the majority of people will read it as “kashé” (IPA symbols too much effort to insert), when it’s actually meant to be read as “kash” due to its spelling. But, because of the sheer number of speakers that don’t say it correctly, it becomes part of the language, and the original pronunciation seems incorrect. What is this phenomenon referred to? An example of other words are here http://www.vocabulary.com/lists/432678#view=notes. None of these are “mispronunciations” in modern English, which is why I’m adamant that the answer isn’t just “mispronunciation”.

The next part is for words that English imports from other languages, then mispronounces. In particular, words such as Qatar (which is a bad transcription of Katur), but also words like sudoku, which English speakers usually read as “suduku” rather than sudoku. What is this phenomenon called?


Spelling-pronounciation, the tendency to allow or encourage the way
a word is spelt to influence the way it is spoken, must be as old as
the first attempts to commit speech-sounds to paper. In English at
least it is traceably very old.”

From Kingsley Amis’s The King’s English. (The section goes on for several pages. Tell me if you want some interesting tidbits or a synopsis of it.)

Also, on the second part of your question, I think you have two competing tendencies. On the one hand, to pronounce things exactly as they are spelled is a kind of pedantry that runs counter to the domestic evolution of language… on the other, to try to pronounce all imported or foreign words (probably most words in the English language) according to the language of their originals is equally pedantic.

Put another way, I think that the kind of people who scold spelling-pronouncers are the same kind to scold or roll their eyes at lingustic pronunciation purists. “It should be this way because it looks like that on paper!” For the most part the same tendency.

Source : Link , Question Author : sqrtbottle , Answer Author : Albatrosspro

Leave a Comment