Just some moments ago, I was listening to the BBC (Local) Radio London [94.9] on my Samsung Galaxy. In fact, it was the first time. I was exploring the slew of radio stations I discovered on the BBC Player, an app that I downloaded yesterday.
I was not paying much attention to what was said on the radio. Suddenly, something jarred my ears. They pricked up. “Luxury” was pronounced as “lʌkʃəri”. Yes, I was not wrong; I heard the speaker pronouncing it again that way. And again. Yet again. She kept saying “lʌkʃəri”.
I am familiar only with “luhg-zhuh-ree” (the “luhg” like “lug”), so I put the speaker’s pronunciation down as “regionalism”; and the fact that I heard that on a “local radio” further reinforced my opinion: some newly-acquired London pronunciation, maybe.
Anyhow, succumbing to my proverbial search frenzy tendency, I scoured every resource at hand. I cringed when Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary vindicated the BBC speaker: it allowed “lʌkʃəri”. Not convinced, I checked Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Then, Compact Oxford Dictionary. Then, Collins English Dictionary. Except for Compact Oxford Dictionary, which coyly inserted the schwa into the word [ˈlʌkʃ(ə)ri/], the others were in cahoots with the BBC speaker.
I was embarrassed. I have, indeed, been mispronouncing the word all my life. But the people around me too have been saying “luhg-zhuh-ree”. Maybe, they too have been wrong. They are not native speakers. But, no, wait; I have heard that pronunciation from people better known for their elocution.
That led to yet another round of search. Checked Charles Harrington Elster’s “The Big Book of Beastly Pronunciations” and “Dictionary of Pronunciation” by Abraham & Betty Lass. Besides these prize possessions of mine, most American dictionaries like Webster and American Heritage have recorded the pronunciation that I am familiar with.
So, I am not entirely wrong after all. Oh dear, do I hear a linguist’s voice? — “The English language changes over time, so do pronunciations.” Maybe, that was how much of what we now consider correct was at one time condemned as “provincial”.