Pronunciation of the sort "amnejia" (= amnesia)

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Tue Jan 8 18:33:57 UTC 2002

    I recently was channel-surfing and came across an old Gomer Pyle movie.
Gomer was talking in his typical Gomer Pyle fashion (does anyone
really talk like that?), and I was startled to hear him pronounce the
word "amnesia" as "amnejia."

    This has bearing on an interesting speculation advanced by Douglas
Wilson, viz.that "jasm" (= energy, enthusiasm; 19th-early 20th cent.;
possible source of "jazz") might derive from a variant pronunciation
of "(enthu)siasm."

    I have encountered the objection (personal letter from an eminent
U.S. linguist) that "enthusiasm" is pronounced only with a -z- (after
the u), not the sound of the -s- of "leisure" or "pleasure." But if
Gomer Pyle can pronounce "amnesia" as "amnejia," perhaps some people
also pronounce "enthusiasm" as "enthujiasm" or something close to

     So, might anyone be familiar with the pronunciation of the sort
"amnejia" or "enthujiasm"?  Have there been any dialectal studies on
this point?

---Gerald Cohen

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