Always seeking new horizons for Not One-Off Britishisms, I turn the focus for the first time to pronunciation. This is not because I have ever heard an American say lefftenant, conTRAHversy, shedule, Re-NAY-sunce, pass-ta, or rahhther. Rahhther, the word in question is scenario.
This term for a future situation comes directly from Italian (scena=scene), and I believe that in contrast to Renaissance and pasta, the British have always pronounced the second syllable in accordance with the original language–to rhyme with car, that is—whereas Americans render it scen-AIR-io.
We have, that is, until now, the age of NOOBs. I have heard more and more Americans say it in the British manner in recent years, sometimes with the telltale syllable drawn luxuriously out. As an example, I plucked from cyberspace an exchange that took place on NPR’s “All Things Considered” this past September. Michelle Norris is interviewing Michael Mackenzie about the European financial crisis.
NORRIS: So if we do see defaults and chaos and uncertainty, could you give us a quick picture of what the best-case scenario would look like and the worst-case scenario as well?
MACKENZIE: Well, the best-case scenario is that it would be relatively quick.
Norris is American and Mackenzie is British, but they both say scenahhrio. You can hear for yourself here. The exchange comes at about the 2:40 mark.