Amphitheater -> Ampitheater

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Mon Jul 12 10:39:05 UTC 1999

The /mp/ pronunciation is given in W3, prefaced by the "division sign"
symbol that marks the pronunciation as "unacceptable" to some.  The
form /mpf/, with intrusive /p/, is also shown.  The Collegiates began
showing the /mp/ pronunciation as a variant beginning with C9 (1983),
though the stigmatization mark, which is rarely used in the
Collegiates, is left out.  The W3 pronunciation editor, Ed Artin,
noted David Brinkley using the /mp/ pronunciation in 1956.

The shift of fricative to plosive articulation after a homoorganic
nasal does not strike me as unusual, and the failure of a stop to
spirantize following a nasal when such a shift has taken place in
other environments is probably even less unusual.

Jim Rader

> We have a local venue called the "Molson Amphitheater." (It's actually
> spelled "Amphitheatre," but I'll ignore that Britishism for the purposes
> of this post.) It plays host to many concerts, so the word
> "amphitheater" is heard quite often on the radio and in conversations.
> Over the past few years, I've noticed that many people, particularly
> young people, pronounce this word as "ampitheater." That is, they ignore
> the first "h" so the initial syllable is pronounced as "amp" instead of
> "amf." Is this a widespread trend and is there any general linguistic
> rule that covers such a shift?
> Paul

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