In the show The Sandman, Ep7, a character speaks "machinations" with a soft /sh/, as "mash-in-ay-tions":

You seek to snare him in your machinations again?

I expected the "ch" to be pronounced with a hard /k/, and that seems to be the main transcription I find online.
But I also find references to a soft /sh/ like in "machine":

I note that Cambridge Dictionary even has /sh/ before /k/, making it perhaps the main pronunciation.

I would like to understand this different pronunciation.

Is this soft /sh/ a common pronunciation?
Is it regional or related to specific dialects/accents?
Is it maybe just related to personal preference of the speaker?

  • 3
    As with most borrowed words and spellings involving CH, the pronunciations are variable, depending on local custom. Listen to how local people pronounce it. If they don't use it, there's no reason for you to. Jan 22 at 16:14
  • 4
    The pronunciation seems to be idiosyncratic. The word is not common enough to have developed a standard pronunciation.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 22 at 16:17
  • 1
    I'm afraid I have no local people to listen to, @JohnLawler . I would have just asked them directly. :)
    – ANeves
    Jan 23 at 0:36
  • "(Deus ex) machina" (which seems to have enjoyed recent popularity e.g. with the Alex Garland film "Ex Machina" and the use of "machina" in video game contexts) still seems to be pronounced with a /k/, so maybe there is a shift back towards /k/ for "machinations" too.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 23 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


According to an article in The Spectator:

The version with ‘mash-’ is not known for sure until 1961, although a book published in 1931, The BBC’s Recommendations for Pronouncing Difficult Words (which I recommend to Mr Hislop) stipulates the traditional pronunciation (‘makination’). This suggests that people were already going wrong in those days. Pronouncing the first syllable as ‘mash’ came about through the influence of ['machine.']

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.