I am an American and I always pronounce “inquiry” with second syllable stress. After hearing more and more Americans say it with first syllable stres, along with British people saying it the way I do, I though I was pronouncing it the British way. But when I consulted wiktionary and all the American dictionaries, I realized that they prefer the second syllable stress, or “British way”. Does anyone know why people pronounce it with first syllable stress and why it is so widespread among educated Americans when no American dictionary prefers it?
Now that we are beginning an impeachment inquiry, this is coming up every hour of every day and most are saying it the “British” way (accent second syllable). My theory is this: it’s not actually a common word here except in philosophical circles, and politicians do not want to sound “over educated” (which the first-syllable stress version may appear to be) so they make the noun sound more in harmony with the more common verb “inquire.” No American pol EVER wants to come across as too fancy! Ironically, though, sounding more like the “people” ends up approximating the British pronunciation.
The educated Americans I know all say "inquiry" stressing the second syllable. I think many in the media believe stressing the first syllable is more "sophisticated" for some reason -- but it's not. Then some of the "educated public" repeat what they hear from the media, thinking the media must know better -- but they don't. Interestingly, both Nancy Pelosi and Lester Holt stress the second syllable. Personally, I cringe everytime someone stresses the first syllable. How about dispensing with "inquiry" completely and substituting "probe"?
I've noticed that news broadcasters are mispronouncing inquiry almost universally. However most dictionaries, both American and British, give the correct pronunciation as accented on the second syllable with a long "i" sound. I think that this phenomenon is quite common. It is caused when people tend to try and speak in a higher register when they find themselves having to speak in a formal situations. They want to sound intelligent and therefore will adopt ways of speaking in ways that they think are more posh or fancy. Sadly news announcers are just as prone to this as the rest of us. But when they do it, it spreads like wildfire.