The three-syllable IN-tris-ting is a victim of syncope (SING-kuh-pee), the loss or omission of a sound or syllable from the middle of a word as in FAM-lee for family and KUHMF-tur-buul for comfortable. It is now probably the most commonly heard pronunciation in American speech. The noun and verb interest is also a victim of syncope and is usually pronounced in two syllables, IN-trist, although the older IN-tur-ist is still heard. The verbal adjective interested is often pronounced in four syllables, IN-tur-ES-tid, but the evidence of my ears says the three-syllable IN-tris-tid is more common.
The four-syllable variant IN-tur-uh-sting, once the preferred pronunciation, is now much less common than the syncopated IN-tris-ting. The somewhat overpronounced IN-tur-ES-ting never had great currency. Speakers who normally say IN-tris-ting will sometimes use it for emphasis or ironically, drawing out the syllables, as in the stock phrase very interesting.
Avoid pronouncing interesting as if it were spelled inneresting. The t of inter- must be preserved at all costs! Also don’t say IN-tur-sting, as if the word were spelled intersting. These are both beastly mispronunciations. For more on syncope, see chocolate, temperature.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
INTRIGUING! I was caught off guard during this week's Hang Up and Listen podcast by the way SI's Grant Wahl kept pronouncing the word interesting with four syllables -- IN-tuh-res-ting -- when I (and I think most people) shortchange clarity in the middle to go with the abbreviated IN-truhs-ting. As The Big Book Of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide For The Careful Speaker by Charles Harrington Elster explains:
Posted by Adam at 9:12 AM