Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How do you say it?

My sister gave me a copy of a book called Origins of the Specious for my birthday last year. It's a book debunking etymological myths such as the one about "posh" standing for "port out, starboard home" and other common misconceptions, so it's right up my pedantic alley.

One section discusses the pronunciation of "schism". Apparently some Americans say "SIZ-em", which is an early modern English pronunciation, from before everyone in England started saying "SKIZ-em". This reminded my of another pronunciation question that I have never been able to settle to my satisfaction:

How do you say "schedule"?

My dad taught me to say "SKED-ule", like school, scheme, schism (!), schizophrenia, schooner, scherzo, etcetera. But one of my favourite English TV presenters, Kevin McCloud, is always worrying about whether Grand Designs homebuilders will meet their "SHED-ule"s, and the dictionary accepts both pronunciations.

I looked at a list of sch- words to see if there was a pattern, and it seems to me that most of the words with Greek and Latin origins are pronounced "SK", and the sch- is generally followed by a vowel. Whereas words of Germanic origin (schmaltz, schnapps, schadenfreude, schist, etcetera) are pronounced "SH" and often have another consonant following the sch-.

So how do YOU say schedule?


Prue said...

I say it with a SH.

Alli said...

Seeing as though we have the same father, I too pronounce it SK-

Love that book!