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Is pronouncing the word "schedule" as "shed-ule" only an upper class thing in the UK? Which pronunciation, "sked-ule" "or "shed-ule" is more faithful to the original etymology of the word, i.e. which came first?

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I heard a very snide remark once, but I cannot remember if the person was a British or US native speaker: "I learned to say 'sked-yul' in school. Where did you learn to say 'shed-yule'? In shool?" – teylyn May 6 '11 at 4:17
"Shed-ule" is the only British pronunciation I'm aware of and deeply upsets my US workmates when I use it, but I just can't help myself... sorry:-) – ukayer Mar 31 '12 at 3:54
I'm from South Africa and our English is based on British English. I think about the words scheme, school, schism and it seems to me the word schedule should have the same rules applied to it and should be pronounced in a similar way. – user30393 Nov 5 '12 at 5:55
@DylanJB: Rules? In English? – Andrew Nov 5 '12 at 6:32
@teylyn - I guess its the same with tom-ay-toe v tom-ar-toe (cf potato) – Andrew Nov 5 '12 at 6:33
up vote 16 down vote accepted

From Etymonline:

[...] the modern British pronunciation ("shed-yul") is from French influence, while the U.S. pronunciation ("sked-yul") is from the practice of Webster, and is based on the Greek original.

To answer your question directly, the modern spelling appeared in 15c as a throwback to the Latin schedula. Google's pronunciation of Latin schedula sounds like skeh-doo-la to me. This is closer to the typical US pronunciation.

The pronunciation guides I checked list the UK pronunciation as simply "UK". Whether it has a class distinction isn't something I can answer.

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Elsewhere it says that schedule is related to the verb shed and noun schism, and so as long as you pronounce it like either of those (to pronounce it like both simultaneously would be hard), you should be fine. – Henry May 6 '11 at 0:29
It's weird that this says the /ʃ/ "sh" pronunciation is due to "French influence", because the related French word, cédule, is pronounced with /s/. Maybe the influence was from an older variant of French though; there are some words in Modern French where "sch" = /ʃ/ like schématiser. (I realize that you're just citing what Etymonline says; I'm not trying to criticize your answer.) – sumelic Nov 3 '15 at 9:33

I've never been aware of a class distinction aspect of shed-yul vs. sked-yul.

I will note that the American pronunciation has made its way back over the pond to some extent. If that is due to the influence of film and TV (which I imagine it is) then it could well vary over different demographics.

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I'm about as far from upper class as you can get and it's shed-ule – mgb May 6 '11 at 3:30
Yeah, I would say that shed-djul seems to be the dominant pronunciation around here. – Marcin May 6 '11 at 7:06

protected by RegDwigнt Nov 5 '12 at 11:19

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