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OED lists two ways of pronouncing negotiate:

Brit. /nᵻˈɡəʊʃɪeɪt/ , /nᵻˈɡəʊsɪeɪt/

Which British dialects use /s/ rather than /ʃ/ and in what contexts does this difference appear?

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  • soogar vs shoogar ? A-sia vs A-shia ? Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 6:56
  • I guess it's something along the lines of -tia- being pronounced /sɪe/. I've heard initiate pronounced with /s/ too, but I wonder if this pronounciation goes for all words with similar spelling.
    – citizen
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 7:22
  • Similarly for appreciate.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 18:39
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    Possible duplicate of Pronunciation of the word 'negotiate' with an /s/
    – shoover
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 18:47

1 Answer 1

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I don't think any British dialect uses /s/ here. /nɪˈgəʊsɪeɪt/ might be used by someone speaking 'hyper-correctly', referring back to the word's earlier pronunciation. But north, south, east or west, most Brits would say /nɪˈgəʊʃɪeɪt/ or /nəˈgəʊʃɪeɪt/ [with the usual variations of the 'long-O' and 'long-E' sounds]. And @citizen, I agree: whoever says it with an /s/ probably also does the same with 'initiate'.

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    Could you develop on "the word's earlier pronunciation"? I heard this way of pronouncing it in an episode of In our Time (BBC). It was not a way of hyper-correcting, as it was pronounced like that several times (which is why I noticed it).
    – citizen
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 0:37
  • Sorry, @citizen, this is beyond my competence, and in particular I don't know when these changes occurred. Perhaps a scholar could fill in the details, so that I'm not tempted to offer misinformation. Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 16:53
  • @citizen I've just found this video-clip about performing Shakespeare using 'Original Pronunciation'. David Crystal uses the word 'musician' as an example, and the process that he describes would also apply to (say) 'negotiate'. Follow this link, play the clip, and listen from about 1 minute 50 seconds: the-toast.net/2014/03/19/… Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 19:11
  • @citizen: hyper-correction can certainly be part of one's normal speech, and thus be repeated every time! The point about hyper-correction is that the speaker thinks his pronunciation is correct, so they will use it consistently. As for the "earlier pronunciation", if I look at the French origin, the /s/ pronunciation seems prevalent indeed.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 14:51
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    The thing to remember is that there is a widespread connotation in BrE between distinguishing between /sj/ and /ʃ/ in pronunciation and being posh in general. The difference here is more sociolectal than dialectal, and someone wishing to sound posh is quite likely to say [nə'ɡəʊsiεɪt] and ['ɪsːjuː], rather than [nə'ɡəʊʃiεɪt] and ['ɪʃuː]. (The longer [s] in issue is also marked as posh and falls into the same category.) Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 15:21

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