Magazine article The Spectator

Machinations

Magazine article The Spectator

Machinations

Article excerpt

I an Hislop mocked Stephen Mangan, when he put in a turn as the man asking the questions on Have I Got News For You last week, for saying 'masination' (for machination), but Hislop himself used the unjustified modern pronunciation 'mashination'. 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.

Pronouncing words that we have only seen in print is a problem for us all.

I can understand people ignorantly pronouncing machismo as if it were a Scottish surname 'Mac I smo'.

I am less sure why they pronounce Che, the pet name of E rnesto Guevara, as if it were an abbreviation of Cher.

I n politics, machinations are the daily work of Machiavellis.

I I the spectator Most people have no trouble pronouncing this name, but it has only been spelled like that in E nglish since 1849. …

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