Vicissitude—I have always taken this to be a Mississippi word, with three short is: "vis-Sis-sit-tood." As prolific audio-book reader Nadia May pronounces it, however, the first i is long: "vye-Sis-sit-you'd." There is a ring of rightness to this.
Sinecure—This word mainly appears in British prose, such as the novels of Anthony Trollope, describing a career situation exacting light labor for a heavy salary. So the Brits probably have the right of it when, as in the above example, they make the first i long: "Sign a cure," rather than "Sin a cure." Still, it's a bit of a surprise for a self-taught Yank who guessed how to pronounce most of his vocabulary after acquiring it in books. I'm used to that kind of thing by now.
|Nothing to see here. Move along.|
Amenities—I'm pretty sure this word, in America, is pronounced like "a Men it ease," where it usually has something to do with cable TV, clean towels, and a continental breakfast. I'm pretty sure I heard Nadia May, just today, saying it with a long e: "a Mean it ease." And given that she was reading George Eliot, I doubt that she had the same examples in view.
Distribute—In American English, the stress goes on the second syllable: "dis-TRIB-yoot." And although you would think denizens of the cradle of the English language might be onto something when they stress the first syllable—"DIS-trib-yoot"—I can't help feeling that they've blundered, somehow. It strikes my ear as clumsy and foreign, like an attempt by someone who speaks English as a second or third language to cover his or her ignorance. I think it must sound even more unwieldy with "-ed" and "-ing" suffixes added. It seems to run counter to the principle of euphony that made my late professor's pronunciation of "adversary" and "controversy" sound so right.
Merino—this word designates both a breed of sheep and the wool that it produces. Both sheep and wool are more of an English thing than an American, so I'll take their word for it when I hear British actors read the word with the stress, and a short e, both in the first syllable. I was just a little surprised by this, though, because I've met people with the family name Merino, who pronounce it "muh-REE-no." But coming from a country where the word "chops" is not automatically understood to mean mutton chops, they may be as mistaken as I was.