Date: Wed, 6 Aug 1997 15:23:39 -0400

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: devel. of flaccid /flaesid/ pron.?

I was recently asked about the development of the pronunciation

/flaesid/, rather than the older and preferred form /flaeksid/,

for _flaccid._ The more I think about it, the less sure I am of

how this pronunciation could have developed.

I'm not sure how early it is, but some turn-of-the-century usage

books specify /flaeksid/, which suggests that there was variation

at that time.

Most words with an orthographic -cc- have this element pronounced

as /ks/ (accident, accept, etc.) or /k/ (accommodate, desiccate, occur,

etc.), with some foreign exceptions (bocci, fettuccini). So it would

seem that a person unfamiliar with _flaccid_ would generalize it

probably to the "correct" /flaeksid/ rather than an /s/.

It also seems that there are enough very common words with the

-cc- going to /ks/ that there wouldn't be any need to assimilate

to /s/. The only word I can think of with -cc- /s/ is a variant

pronunciation of _succinct_ with an /s/, but here one could either

explain it as an assimilation to the first s or as a loss of the

/k/ at the end of an unaccented first syllable, which is not the

pattern of _flaccid._

Leaving aside any considerations of spelling, one might predict

a /flaesid/ pron on the analogy of such far more common words as

_acid, lucid,_ or _placid,_ and perhaps the explanation is as

simple as this.

I'm not very knowledgable about pronunciation, so I'd welcome

any input anyone has.


Jesse Sheidlower