about the pronunciation of the word "cinema". I'm neither a linguist nor a native English speaker, but to me, the OED pronunciation of "cinema", with a schwa at the end has always seemed the natural one. But one of my friends, born in the 1980s and grown up in Hertfordshire, consistently pronounces "cinema" with a long [ɑː] at the end. Is this pronunciation becoming more common, and is it part of some form of wider change of pronunciation (ie. does it involve more words than just "cinema")?I replied
The ɑː at the end of "cinema" is a well-known variant. But I have no statistics about whether or not it is becoming more common. I don't think this particular alternation applies to any other words.
Carney’s list of polysyllabic words ending in postconsonantal a (Survey of English Spelling, p. 294) shows that almost all have final ə, thus for example abscissa, agenda, alfalfa, antenna etc. The only exceptions he mentions, with ɑː, are grandma, grandpa, hoopla, papa. (For some reason he seems to have overlooked mama and Panama.)
So we would certainly expect cinema to follow the majority and have -mə, all the more so since etymologically it is a shortening of cinematography, in which everyone pronounces -mə-.
The -mɑː form is therefore a bit of a mystery. I remember noticing Gimson using that pronunciation and thinking it was odd, since I myself say -mə.
There is also the special case of alleluia and its variants hallelujah, alleluja. This is normally ˌælɪˈluːjə (despite the OED’s very odd transcription ælɪˈl(j)uːɪə). But in singing, choirs sometimes strengthen the second vowel to eɪ and/or the last to ɑː. In the musical passage I reproduce below, the accenting and lengthening of those two vowels makes that more or less a must: here we sing æ ˈleɪ luː ˈjɑː.