First, may I begin by saying that I love the English language! After so many years, I still find myself learning something new each day.
The question Are there any pairs of words like "beloved"/"belovèd", "learned"/"learnèd" that maintain a semantic difference to the present day? has been identified as a possible duplicate of this question, but therein an enumeration of such words is called for, whereas here I am asking about the pronunciation of a certain adjective within this group.
Are -èd adjectives still usèd words? could also be argued as a duplicate of my question, but what I want to know is far less broad, revolving around the pronunciation of deserved.
That settled, my question today revolves around the pronunciation of deserved in differing contexts. In British English at least (I can't speak for American English, unfortunately) there are no less than several heteronyms which end in ed.
Among these are:
- Blessed (past-tense verb)/blessèd (adjective)
- Beloved (adjective)/belovèd (adjective)
- Learned (past-tense verb)/learnèd (adjective)
- Dogged (past-tense verb)/doggèd (adjective)
- Legged (past-tense verb)/leggèd (adjective, usually hyphenated to another word)
Of course the grave accents aren't strictly necessary (context is usually telling) but I want my point to be clear.
I got the impression that deserved belonged to this class of words, i.e. deserved (past-tense verb) and deservèd (adjective). If this is archaic, then perhaps what confused me is that the adverb deservèdly and the noun deservèdness are pronounced in four syllables.
I can't decide whether the adjective is pronounced in two or three syllables. The pronunciation of well-deserved may be telling here.
I have checked this in a few dictionaries, but come to no conclusion. The Cambridge Dictionary, usually trustworthy in such (fine) matters, gives the pronunciation of any form of deserved as two syllables in length.