With few exceptions, I hear people pronounce enmity emnity, Wednesday Wensday, and prerogative perogative.

Is there a proper term for this phenomenon?

  • Wednesday = "Wensday" is usually not considered a mispronunciation. More generally, how do you determine if something is a "mispronunciation" or not if it is "always" pronounced the wrong way? Just by looking at how it's spelled? Then what about words like hymn, debt, or island where some letters are standardly "silent"? – herisson Nov 19 '15 at 1:12
  • I would say a mispronunciation in this context is to not follow the printed letters with the spoken sounds. I'd be interested to know how Wensday isn't a mispronunciation of Wednesday. Wed-nes-day. – Daniel Stowers Nov 19 '15 at 1:15
  • 1
    But the pronunciation of island as "eye-land" does not follow the printed letters. So is it a mispronunciation? The OED online lists the following pronunciations for Wednesday: . /ˈwɛnzdeɪ/ , /ˈwɛnzdi/ , U.S. /ˈwɛnzˌdeɪ/ , /ˈwɛnzdi/. You'll notice none of them have a /d/ before the /z/. – herisson Nov 19 '15 at 1:17
  • That how-to-pronounce doesn't say how it got that way. I'd be interested to find that out. I mentioned this in another situation: a short drive from my home is a main road called Wellesley Street. Everyone here (NZ) calls it WELL es ley Street. But it's named for the first Duke Of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, pronounced WELLES ley.No matter who I explain that to and how accepting they are of the information and how in agreement they are with it needing to have it's proper pronunciation restored, they simply cannot say it the right way because of the weight and momentum of tradition. – Daniel Stowers Nov 19 '15 at 1:23
  • Sure, but you're confusing two things here: spelling and history. Historically, the word lady was at one point pronounced more like HLAV-dee-yeh. (The first part is related to the word loaf, loaves). But the "v" sound was lost, and it seems meaningless to say that it would be "correct" to pronounce it today. Historically, the word island never had an "s" sound: the "s" in the spelling was inserted because people thought it was related to the Latin word insula. It seems wrong to me to say that it would be "correct" to pronounce it today. – herisson Nov 19 '15 at 1:32

Consider, metathesis

(phonetics, prosody) The transposition of letters, syllables or sounds within a word, such as in ask as /æks/. Wikipedia

nucular is a commonly used metathetic form of the word nuclear Wikipedia

  • Wow! Thanks for that. I think that works for most of what I was meaning. There might be a separate term for dropping a sound (like perogative for prerogative). But this was a pretty useful answer. – Daniel Stowers Nov 19 '15 at 0:39
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    @DanielStowers You're welcome, Dan! – Elian Nov 19 '15 at 0:46
  • Metathesis seems right to describe the pronunciation Daniel listed for enmity, but not for the ones listed for the other two words. For Wednesday and prerogative, the relevant change seems to be elision (in prerogative, there may also be a morphological reanalysis of the prefix). – herisson Nov 19 '15 at 2:04

Just come across the word which describes the mumbling of Wednesday & prerogative.

Lenition (Oxford Dictionaries /US English) The process or result of weakened articulation of a consonant, causing the consonant to become voiced, spirantized, or lost.

In UK English a more limited definition is given.

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