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Well, Oxford, Cambridge and Macmillan lists /ˌɛdjʊˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/, /ˌed.jʊˈkeɪ.ʃən/, and /ˌedjʊˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/ respectively as the pronunciation for education. Yet, people say /eʊkeɪʃən/.

Can you please elaborate?

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  • @snailboat see macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/education and listen to the pronunciation
    – MAKZ
    Feb 20, 2015 at 20:05
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    Which version of English do you want to master? British English? Indian English? American English? Canadian English? Something else?
    – Jasper
    Feb 20, 2015 at 20:36
  • @Jasper how is that relevant ? I prefer brit english
    – MAKZ
    Feb 20, 2015 at 20:45
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    Some words are pronounced differently in different varieties of English. A word that you know has multiple pronunciations is especially likely to have regional or dialectal differences in pronunciation. Sometimes (like with the ancient Hebrew word shibboleth) the difference matters. And if you want to speak British English, we should encourage native speakers of British English to answer your question.
    – Jasper
    Feb 20, 2015 at 21:05
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    personally, BrE, in my head I say ed-yoo, but most people would perceive a slight slur towards ej-u. Life's like that. Feb 21, 2015 at 7:39

2 Answers 2

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/ɛdʒuˈkɛɪʃən/ is the way it's pronounced in General American (the standard American accent), and /edjuˈkɛɪʃən/ is the way it's pronounced in Recieved Pronunciation (the standard British accent). I'm not entirely sure (since I'm a GA speaker), but I wouldn't be surprised if RP speakers sometimes pronounce it /ɛdʒuˈkɛɪʃən/ when they're not being particularly careful about their speech.

This is due to two processes called yod-dropping and yod-coalescence. Yod-dropping causes /j/ in historic /ju/ to be dropped in certain situations. In GA, this happens after any of the coronal consonants (consonants articulated with the tip of the tongue): /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /ʃ/ /θ/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ /l/, /ɹ/, and possibly /ʒ/ and /ð/ (I can't find any examples of yod-dropping after /ʒ/ and /ð/, but they are coronal consonants). In RP, however, /j/ is never dropped after /n/, and it is only sometimes dropped after /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /θ/, and /l/ (theoretically, it would also sometimes be retained after /ð/). Yod-coalescence turns /tj/, /dj/, /sj/, and /zj/ into /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/, and /ʒ/ in unstressed syllables in GA and sometimes RP.

So, due to yod-dropping, "new" is pronounced /nju/ in RP, but /nu/ in GA; "Zeus" (a god in Greek mythology) is pronounced /zjus/ in RP, but /zus/ in GA (yod-coalescence doesn't occur here because the syllable is stressed); "due" is /dju/ in RP, but /du/ in GA; and "enthusiasm" is pronounced /ɛnˈθjuzi.æz(ə)m/ in RP, but /ɛnˈθuzi.æz(ə)m/ in GA. Due to yod-coalescence, "nature", historically pronounced /ˈnɛɪtjuɹ/, is now pronounced /ˈnɛɪtʃə/ in RP and /ˈnɛɪtʃɚ/ in GA; "azure", historically pronounced /ˈæzjuɹ/, is now pronounced /ˈæʒ(j)ə/ in RP and /ˈæʒɚ/ in GA; "educate", historically pronounced /ˈɛdjukɛɪ̯t/, is now pronounced /ˈɛdjʊkɛɪ̯t/ or /ˈɛdʒəkɛɪ̯t/ in RP and /ˈɛdʒəkɛɪ̯t/ in GA.

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    It's pronounced /edʒu-/ by the vast majority of BE speakers:) By the queen, in particular! I don't understand something in your post :( If the yod's dropped, how does it coalesce? Feb 21, 2015 at 1:59
  • Yeah, I just realized that none of my examples included yod-coalescence, only yod-dropping. I'll edit that. I didn't realize it before, but yeah, there's no yod-dropping in yod-coalescence because the yod isn't dropped, it merges with the preceding sound to form a new one. The education example is just yod-coalesence, but I still think it's good to mention yod-dropping because it's closely related to yod-coalesence (and for anyone who doesn't know, "yod" refers /j/ sound).
    – Zgialor
    Feb 21, 2015 at 2:29
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An interesting problem. I'm no native English speaker (German) and used to the pronunciation (Pn) of the word education with /dj/. Made curious by the question I had a look at some dictionaries:

OALD BrE ʤ, AmE ʤ

Collins only one Pn: dj - no differentiation between BrE and AmE

Macmillan only one Pn: dj

Cambridge BrE dj, AmE ʤ

This clearly shows how careless and imprecise renowned dictionaries are as to Pn. No dictionary gives a hint that the Pn of education is an example of language change. /dj/ is in the process of changing to /ʤ/. In AmE ʤ seems to be the standard Pn, in BrE you can hear the traditional dj and the more recent ʤ.

The only dictionary that really indicates the problem of two Pn-s for BrE is my old Everyman's English Pronouncing Dictionary by Daniel Jones and A.C.Gimson. Only for BrE. It gives as first Pn dj and as second Pn ʤ. (I have the 14th edition from 1977.)

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