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A Grammatical Hyperurbanism

There are some speakers of American English for whom the plural of process involves altering the inserted unstressed vowel of the desinence {-s} from [ɨ] to [iy] so that processes is pronounced [prɔ́sɛsíyz], as if it were a word of Greek origin via Latin, like basis or thesis or hypothesis, which regularly alter the last vowel to form plurals without adding a desinence (thus pl. bases, theses, hypotheses).

Noting that the regular alternation of the final vowel occurs in abstracta that belong by definition to originally learnèd––and hence stylistically elevated––vocabulary, the pronunciation of processes as if it were similarly of Graeco-Latin origin (which it is not) can only be adjudged a HYPERURBANISM (hypercorrection), in that speakers who resort to it (subconsciously) analogize its inflectional morphology to that of analysis or neurosis rather than glass or ace. Whether this mistaken plural form should also be considered an affectation––as with all hyperurbanisms––is in the ear of the beholder.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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