Pronouncing ‘schedule’

Posted on Tue 16 Oct 2018 @ 4.00am UTC


WHY is the word ‘schedule’ pronounced differently by the British from how Americans pronounce it?

The British pronunciation ʃɛdjuːl/ (“sheddjual”) is based on the Old French cedule (modern French cédule). The word schedule has been pronounced this way since Late Middle English (ca. 1430s).

The American pronunciation skɛdjuːl/ (“skedjoo-ul”) is based on the Greek σχέδη (skhédē).

Back in my schooldays over 40 years ago, our schoolmistress said the USA took its political and educational inspiration from the Ancient Greeks rather than the Romans. Plausible.

The French cedule (“sedjuel”) was loaned from Latin schedula, itself a loan from the Greek skhédē. And because of that, there’s a lot of hogwash from Americans that the American pronunciation is closer to the ‘original’ than the British.

The fact remains the ‘original’ English word was a French import into Late Middle English — not a Greek import.

There is no Greek ‘original’ to speak of in respect to the English word — that’s presentism on the part of the American claimants. It’s also misuse and abuse of etymology.

In reality, the English word schedule had more than one pronunciation and more than one spelling form until regularised around 1755.

The English language has always been in a constant state of flux. Pockets of speakers would develop their own deviations for words and phrases. These then grew or wither over time with variable cross-reference and cross-pollination with other pockets of speakers.

In case anyone wonders, both ways are correct — so stop bickering.

Learn English or Starve

© Learn English or Starve, 16 Oct 2018.

Citation for this article:—

Learn English or Starve. (2018). Pronouncing ‘schedule.’ Learn English or Starve. 16 Oct 2018.

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