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Is there a reason that Americans now pronounce luxury "lugsury" instead of "lucshury" while still pronouncing "extract" and "extra" with the more common "x" sound?

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    I am American, and I don't do that. Perhaps they forgot to send me the memo. – phoog Jan 28 '16 at 13:25
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    Dammit, I knew I had one other thing in my inbox that day. Sorry phoog! – John Clifford Jan 28 '16 at 13:41
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    I would say that my pronunciation varies between the two, with the latter being more likely. Depends in part on how luxurious I'm feeling, I suppose. – Hot Licks Jan 28 '16 at 13:58
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    The x in 'luxury' is in a different phonetic environment from the x in 'extra', which is immediately followed by voiceless plosive, so more likely to be pronounced /ks/. BTW, in British English, we usually pronounce the 'x' as /ks/ in 'luxury', but as /gzh/ in 'luxurious', so how the word is stressed comes into it as well. [Excuse the 'zh' - can't get at IPA symbols right now.] – David Garner Jan 28 '16 at 14:38
  • I've always heard it as a hard "K" followed by "shh" sound, so my preference is: Luck'-shur-ree. – ElG Mar 21 '19 at 17:40
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As David Garner mentioned in a comment, "extract" and extra" wouldn't be pronounced with a /g/ sound because the x is before /t/ in these words.

The letter "x" is sometimes pronounced with /g/ + a voiced fricative sound when it comes before a vowel; mainly when the following vowel is stressed (as in exact). In luxury, the following vowel is not stressed, but in the related word luxurious, it is. So it seems likely that the pronunciation of luxury with /g/ is derived from the pronunciation of luxurious with /g/. I don't know why there would be a difference between British and American speakers. As was mentioned in the comments, not all American English speakers use /g/ in luxury: some use /k/.

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There is a common practice to smooth words out in American English. Some smoothing are not problematic and don't diminish from the general acceptability of the sentence such as "lugsury" or "jewlerry". They are written off. But then there are occurrences like "liberry" and "nucular" that make people sound uneducated.

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  • It's not really clear what you mean by "smoothing." The examples you give all show different processes. – herisson Jan 28 '16 at 15:41
  • "There are occurrences like 'liberry' and 'nucular' that make people sound uneducated," especially the 43rd President of the United States. But, "'lugsury' or 'jewlerry' instead of drawer"? I think something might be missing from your example. – Mark Hubbard Jan 28 '16 at 16:09
  • @sumelic What different processes do you mean? All I mean is that when there is a hard stop or a hard sound in a word Americans can sometimes try to replace the hard sound with a more rounded and smooth sound – supes9 Jan 28 '16 at 17:48
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    What do "hard" and "smooth" mean? – herisson Jan 28 '16 at 19:36

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