The Corner

Pronunciation, Cont.

Several readers wrote to say that “consummate,” too, is frequently mispronounced – I mean, “consummate” as an adjective. The preference – or the old preference – is for “con-SUM-mate,” accent on the second syllable. The first time I heard that pronunciation was from the lips of Bill Buckley. This was on Firing Line, moons ago. I assumed this was a British pronunciation, because Bill had a few of them. But my dictionary confirmed that it was American – and preferred. At the time, John Judis was working on a biography of Bill. The working title was “The Consummate Conservative.” When it was published, the title was different: “Patron Saint of the Conservatives.” I always wondered whether Judis or his publisher wanted to avoid pronunciation troubles or hesitations or quarrels.

 

By the way, Bill man though I am, and always will be, I am a “CON-summate” man. Simply what I was raised with. (And, no, I don’t insist on saying “reared” – a dumb, schoolmarmish pseudo-rule.)

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