|Read between the lines, English!|
Paroxysm—Again, it is to Nadia May that I owe my new understanding of how this word is meant to be said. Not sure that I've heard any American use it conversationally, I have nevertheless gathered (perhaps from my own imagination) that the word is pronounced like "PAIR-ox-ism." But now I must consider the possibility that it should sound like "pa-ROCKS-ism." I'm too jaded from this long list of linguistic surprises to feel a paroxysm (of either laughter or despair) coming on.
Affianced—All along I have heard this word in my head, when I have seen it in print, with stress on the first syllable and a somewhat nasal, Frenchified vowel in the third. I suppose this is another example of my guessing, without having heard any credible interpreter declaim the word, with nothing to go by but the analogy to such words as "fiancé." Proving once again that analogy is no friend to one who would derive the pronunciation of an English word from its spelling, I have heard a series of British audio-book readers (most recently Simon Prebble) stress the second syllable, with a "long I" (as in "eye") in it: "af-FI-anced."
Scone—Whenever I have heard this word uttered aloud by an English speaker from England, it has been pronounced with a short O, rhyming with "gone." The English lady who served me the only "British high tea" I have ever enjoyed (and I enjoyed it hugely) also informed me, very emphatically, that the word is "SKAWN" as in don, yon, and put-upon. And yet I challenge you to try this pronunciation when ordering a scone with your coffee at Panera Bread Company. The barista will give you a funny look and then suggest, with an expression ranging from dawning comprehension to polite condescension, that you might have meant "SKOHN" as in bone, cone, and forever alone. This poem would hardly be so devastatingly on-target if the ending "-one" didn't have at least three too many possible pronunciations, so a little confusion on this should perhaps be expected.