I have from time to time noticed the different pronunciations of some words like civilization and organization where the "i" phonetically sounds like "aay". It is more clear in civilization since the first two "i"s sounds normal and then the third "i" is pronounced completely different. I sadly dont have a concrete example to show up and I'm a non-native. So I'm wondering, is this just an old pronunciation? Something to do with British- or American English? Maybe more narrowly, just something to do with a (old) dialect?

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    The third 'i' in civilization is pronounced normally as far as I'm concerned. It's just that it is used with the 'long vowel' pronunciation rather the 'short vowel' pronunciation used with the other two. The long vowel is used in 'idea', 'life' and the personal pronoun 'I' among other words. There's nothing strange about it at all.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 8, 2021 at 7:25
  • I meant that it is strange in the sense that people mostly use that so called short vowel in these words. The concept makes sense now that I know about short and long vowels.
    – Futhark
    Apr 8, 2021 at 7:33
  • @BoldBen: CED does list the pronunciation with the short vowel for the third ‘i’: /ˌsɪv.əl.əˈzeɪ.ʃən/ Apr 8, 2021 at 7:38

1 Answer 1


You are in fact correct; the American (Gen Am) pronunciation of "organization" is as follows (Longman Pronunciation Dictionary)

  • /ˌɔːrg ən‿ə ˈzeɪʃ ᵊn /

The italic schwa can combine with the following n into a syllabic n, or it can be pronounced as normal schwa. The ligature indicates that the following pronunciation is also an option.

  • /ˌɔːrg nə ˈzeɪʃ ᵊn /

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