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I’m interested in the apparent mispronunciation of the word accoutrement [əˈkutrəmənt].

Although it’s not a word I encounter daily, when occasioned upon, I often hear the speaker pronounce it as [əˈkutrəməl].

I searched several dictionaries and none mentions this pronunciation. Neither did I find it on a list of common mispronunciations, (although this may be simply because the word is not so common).

While I think the cause is obvious for many commonly miscued words, I am not sure what causes people to improperly accessorize the delivery of accoutrement.

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    Weird. I generally hear [əˈkuːtrəmənt] or sometimes [akutʁəmɑ̃] Never heard anyone put məl in there.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 5 at 17:30
  • It's the rare word that is pronounced pretty much the way that it is spelled. Do note that with such words folks often HEAR it differently, depending on the speaker's emphasis or the adjacent words.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 5 at 17:30
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    As a BrE speaker I prefer the French-like pronunciation (it's a loan word) as ColleenV's second option, which may sound like a lazy L or a mispronunciation to some people. Aug 5 at 17:33
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    A nasalized vowel, especially a final one, like the French /ɑ̃/ at the end of accoutrement, could easily be misheard by an English speaker who didn't know French, as a lateral. It's not that it's a lateral sound, but it's an odd one for an English speaker, and lateralizing a vowel is one odd thing you can do to a final vowel. Or it could just as easily be an English speaker trying to pronounce the French word in French, and failing. Aug 5 at 19:19
  • Consider, how ought one pronounce words borrowed from other languages? Should one attempt to pronounce it in its original (borrowed-from) language, even though one may not have skill at doing so, or not even be able to correctly identify the language it was borrowed from? Should one instead shoehorn the letters into one's own opinion of how the word should be pronounced in English? I doubt either is, "better." Aug 6 at 22:26

1 Answer 1

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John Lawler wrote in a comment:

A nasalized vowel, especially a final one, like the French /ɑ̃/ at the end of accoutrement, could easily be misheard by an English speaker who didn't know French, as a lateral. It's not that it's a lateral sound, but it's an odd one for an English speaker, and lateralizing a vowel is one odd thing you can do to a final vowel.

Or it could just as easily be an English speaker trying to pronounce the French word in French, and failing.

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