I was watching American national news coverage of the "Brexit" poll, and it seemed to me that none of the news anchors nor commentators used a voiced consonant cluster in their pronunciation of the word. That is they all pronounced it /bɹɛksɪt/ and not /bɹɛgzɪt/. Upon discussing the poll with two American friends, I realized that they too use the voiceless pronunciation. The older of the two even defended his rendering of the word, saying, "It's spelled with an ex."

Merriam-Webster, the Oxford English Dictionary, and Dictionary.com list the voiced version of "exit" first, so I would assume it's the more popular or traditional one. Although the spelling and latin origin would lead me to believe the voiceless pronunciation is conventional, "exotic" and "exhaust" both have those qualities too and only have the option of a voiced cluster.

What is the frequency of the voiceless consonant cluster, /ks/, versus the voiced one, /gz/, in "exit?"

  • 6
    Won't anyone pronounce this the same way they pronounce "exit"? It has the same choice of voiced or voiceless. – GEdgar Jun 25 '16 at 0:42
  • 3
    I don't always use the word "brexit". But when I do, I pronounce it: dos equis. – candied_orange Jun 25 '16 at 1:02
  • 2
    The word is less than a year old, and it's been common in the US only for a couple months. Plus we tend not to talk about it here; we hear it on the radio and TV or read about it. It's been Somebody Else's Problem. So you're not gonna find any uniformity. I find myself saying it either way, same as I say exit (i.e, I vary from instance to instance in how I say it, just like I do with with). So the responses here pretty much sum it up: Do it any way you like, because native speakers do it that way. – John Lawler Jun 25 '16 at 2:42
  • 1
    Is this the actual question in your post: "What is the frequency of the voiceless consonant cluster, /ks/, versus the voiced one, /gz/, in 'exit?'"? Is that it? If so, why all the stuff about "brexit"? Or is your question "Voiced or voiceless cluster in 'Brexit?'"? What exactly is your question? – Drew Jun 25 '16 at 3:08
  • 1
    What @John said. I think the difference is too trivial for most people to even know which they use without thinking or trying it out, and lots of us oscillate meaninglessly anyway, and don't particularly notice which versions others use either. It has no significance. – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '16 at 3:17

Editor Stan Carey ran a poll on this last week:

'Brexit' pronunciation poll: 75% say the 'x' like -ks-, 23% like -gz-, 2% other (n=534). Lots of interesting replies

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for?Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.