In The Pronunciation of Standard English in America, by George Philip Krapp (1919), I found the following surprising statement:

For malinger the standard pronunciation is [mə´lɪndʒə̉ɹ], though occasionally speakers are led to pronounce the word as though it were a variant form of linger [´lɪŋgə̉ɹ].

(p. 131; the "ə̉" is a placeholder for a character that I can't find in Unicode; it's like a schwa but the top part is curlier than usual)

I haven't found any other source (from any time period, about any variety of English) that confirms Krapp's description of [məˈlɪndʒəɹ] as "the standard pronunciation" of malinger. The 1918 pronunciation guide "Every-day pronunciation", by Robert Palfrey Utter (who lived in America), gives the pronunciation of "malinger" only as "mã̇lĭṇ´gêṛ", which corresponds more or less to IPA [məˈlɪŋgə(ɹ)].

Does anyone have any further information about the variant pronunciation of malinger with [dʒ], and why Krapp might have thought of it as the "standard pronunciation" of this word?

  • The OED acknowledges only /məˈlɪŋɡə(r)/ - in the online version (entry updated 2000), in the online OED2 (1989), and in my compact edition (dated 1979)
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Webster's dictionaries started including detailed pronunciation with the 1864 edition, and it looks like they always identified malinger to have a "hard g", rhyming with linger (1864, 1890, 1930). Worcester's dictionaries, however, transcribe it as having a "soft g", rhyming with ginger (1850, 1860).

Early British pronouncing dictionaries from the 18th and 19th centuries do not include the word. Daniel Jones seems to have always had it /məˈlɪŋɡə(r)/ (1913, 1917, 1944), as did Kenyon & Knott (1944).

Given the earliest record of the pronunciation of the consonants in malinger I could find was Worcester who had it rhyming with ginger, Krapp may be right in saying that that pronunciation preceded the "linger" pronunciation, but it seems to have only persisted until around the turn of the century, if not earlier.

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