LawProse Lesson 350: How to say “electoral”

LawProse Lesson 350: How to say “electoral”

You might think you have enough to worry about today. But have you thought about how to say the word that seems to be on everybody’s lips?

We may as well get it straight: the traditional way to pronounce electoral is /ee-lek-tuh-ruhl/—with stress on the second syllable. It corresponds to electorate.

It’s preferably not /ee-lek-tor-uhl/, nor is it /ee-lek-tor-ee-uhl/. It doesn’t rhyme with pictorial.

Only in the past few years have some dictionaries started listing the third-syllable stress as a possibility—and then only as a kind of pronunciational amnesty because there were so many offenders.

To a careful user of language, electoral rhymes pretty closely with the phrases a federalin general, and a temporal.

Must we make a federal case of it? One hears that’s underway already. If it is, let’s hope that the lawyers involved know how to pronounce the word central to the litigation. Whenever people mispronounce a word that’s invariably coupled with college, one understandably worries. You can count on it.

Moral: With electoral, the emphasis is on the second syllable.

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