How to pronounce 'hypocritical'?

  1. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/90495 states that it should be /hɪpəʊˈkrɪtɪkəl/.

  2. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/hypocritical and https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hypocritical indicates otherwise as /ˌhɪpəˈkrɪtɪkl/

Which one is better and/or more common?

  • 3
    By the way, /kəl/ vs/ /kl/ is most likely a purely notational difference of no significance. – sumelic Dec 31 '16 at 19:17
  • According to Miriam-Webster: \¦hi-pə-¦kri-ti-kəl\ – Andy Schweig Dec 31 '16 at 19:58
  • 3
    As if you're saying demeaning things about a river horse. – Hot Licks Dec 31 '16 at 20:07
  • What do you mean by "demeaning things about a river horse"? – qazwsx Dec 31 '16 at 20:15
  • 1
    There is no effective difference between the two pronunciations. The only presenting distinction is how to represent unstressed vowels, which are normally neutralized in any event. At normal speech rates and articulation, unstressed vowels may be pronounced or reduced, ad libitum. – John Lawler Dec 31 '16 at 20:16

I can't tell you which is better, but the difference seems to be to lie in whether the "hypo-" part is treated as a separate word. An unstressed non-low vowel in English is tensed and diphthongized ordinarily only at the end of a word or before a vowel. Some long prefixes like "photo-" or "pseudo-" can have unstressed diphthong "o" at the end. It is not intuitively obvious whether the "hypo" of "hypocritical" is a prefix.

  • Why bother with intuition? hypocrite (n.) c. 1200, ypocrite, "false pretender to virtue or religion," from Old French ypocrite (12c., Modern French hypocrite), from Church Latin hypocrita "a hypocrite," from Greek hypokrites "stage actor; pretender, dissembler," from hypokrinesthai (see hypocrisy). – Hot Licks Jan 1 '17 at 15:51
  • Continue: hypocrisy (n.) c. 1200, ipocrisie, "the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness," from Old French ypocrisie, from Late Latin hypocrisis "hypocrisy," also "an imitation of a person's speech and gestures," from Attic Greek hypokrisis "acting on the stage; pretense," metaphorically, "hypocrisy," from hypokrinesthai "play a part, pretend," also "answer," from hypo- "under" (see hypo-) + middle voice of krinein "to sift, decide" (see crisis). – Hot Licks Jan 1 '17 at 15:54
  • @HotLicks, Why bother with intuition? The fact we're asked to explain is the variation between "o" and schwa in the second syllable of "hypocritical". Can you explain to me what your adventure in etymology tells us that is relevant? My theory is that contemporary English speakers have to decide whether "hypo" is a prefix in English in order to say it. It is their intuitions about that which are relevant. – Greg Lee Jan 1 '17 at 18:46
  • Then why didn't you say that in your answer? – Hot Licks Jan 1 '17 at 19:32

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