December 19, 2009
Have you noticed that some people are pronouncing “electronics” differently these days? The word crops up a lot in this season, as stores such as Best Buy and Walmart promote sales of high-definition televisions, GPS navigation units, and Blu-ray players.
I first noticed this phenomenon in a Walmart TV commercial, but I had to view the ad more than once to convince myself that my ears were not deceiving me. Instead of pronouncing “electronics” as i-lek-tron'-iks (or, less often, ee-lek-tron'-iks), the voiceover pronounces the word as el-ek-tron'-iks. Where did this pronunciation come from? “Electronics” is related to several other words. Do the people who say el-ek-tron'-iks also pronounce “electric” as el-ek'-trik, “electricity” as el-ek-tris'-i-tee, and “electron” as el-ek'-tron. No such pronunciations, I suggest, are standard.
The Walmark pronunciation of “electronics” may be gaining currency. The day I decided that I had heard the retailer’s ad correctly, I identified two other speakers on television saying el-ek-tron'-iks.