A couple of weeks ago, I posted two polls to try to determine whether pronouncing “negotiate” as “ne-go-see-ate” is, as I suspected, a Britishism. A commenter astutely noted that I had rather muddied the waters by remarking that I can’t stand that pronunciation. At that point it was too late to change the question, so I have to live with a somewhat poll that probably underreported the “see” pronunciation.
In any case, the results indicated that it is indeed more common in the U.K., with 11 percent of the respondents reporting favoring it, than in the U.S., with 3 percent.
A number of the comments shed some light on the subject. A couple of people remarked that “ne-go-see-ate” is the common BBC pronunciation. One Englishwoman said she used it herself, as a result of having gone to drama school. An Englishman said he used both pronunciations, favoring “ne-go-see-ate” “to press a point.”
An Irish woman who blogs as “Mollymooly” very helpfully provided a census of her own behavior on a variety of such words:
Either -s- or -sh-
Now -sh- once -t-
Finally, I e-mailed John Wells, editor of The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. He replied that he had no statistics on the matter but, on the question of whether “ne-go-see-ate” is more common in the U.K. than the U.S., he had a one-word answer: “Certainly.”
I’ll take that as a yes.