Monday, 7 January 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury

credit: cliffandally

I watched Goodbye to Canterbury, a broadcast written and spoken by The Most Rev and Rt Hon the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams1. At one time during his presentation at about 42:37 he said:
[...] it then seemed a little bit of a luxury just to sound off from a distance.
Here's the sound file:

 credit: BBC

The word luxury was pronounced /ˈlʌgzəri/ (with /g/ and /z/ being devoiced). Was this a slip of the tongue, had he mixed up luxury and luxuriance or is it an idiosyncrasy of his? Or is it a variant I am not aware of? Let's see what EPD18 and LPD3 have to say.


lʌɡ-, ləɡ-
-ˈʒʊə-, -ˈʒɔː-, -ˈzʊə-, -ˈzjɔː-

lʌk-, lək-


lʌɡ-, ləɡ-, lʌk-
-ˈzjʊər-, -ˈʒʊər-

-ˈsjʊər-, -ˈʃʊər-






§ = British English non-RP

None of the two dictionaries offers /ˈlʌgzəri/ as a variant pronunciation. So the questions remain open until more evidence is available.

1 Dr Williams stepped down from the position of Archbishop on the 31st of December 2012.


  1. It wasn't the devoicing of /ks/ to /gz/ that struck me so much as the omission of any reflection of the /j/ normally to be heard in this word, whether as a fully realized /j/ or as /ʃ/ (from /sj/) or /ʒ/ (from /zj/).

    I agree with JWL that this is almost certainly an idiosyncrasy on the part of Dr Williams.

    BTW, the former Archbishop, despite hailing from South Wales, has a bit of a reputation in GB for sounding "even posher than the Queen".

    1. ... and the poshest of them all is Brian Sewell.

  2. I can't disagree with Kevin or Kraut but I'd like just to remind them of the brilliant choice of word that Alan Cruttenden made in his splendid revisions of Gimson's classic book on English pronunciation — Refined— a word that shou·d offend no-one to whose speech it's applied. I'd agree that Rowan Williams has a more geographically unassignable accent than the Queen and cert·nly than her grandson the future King as some of Kraut's previous posts have nicely demonstrated.