I pronounce it with the stress on the first syllable, ˈærɪstɒtl, and that is the only stress pattern I show in LPD.
Kevin, who is a Cantonese speaker from Hong Kong, says he has always pronounced it with the main stress on the third syllable (-tot-), and has discovered that an on-line pronunciation dictionary, howjsay, seems to agree with him.
I should explain that the website in question is “A free online Talking Dictionary of English Pronunciation” in which you can call up a sound file of any of some 128,000 words. They are all spoken, I think, by the author of the website, Tim Bowyer, who is clearly British. Jack Windsor Lewis blogged about this site a few days ago.
And it’s true: Tim pronounces ærɪsˈtɒtl. Listen!
What can I say? I told Kevin
My reaction would be that this is simply an error, or more politely an
People who have not been taught classics or philosophy by a live teacher can easily create idiosyncratic pronunciations on the basis of the spelling, because (as you well know) English spelling does not clearly indicate pronunciation.
Classicists and philosophers, believe me, stress Aristotle on the first
At least Tim Bowyer pronounces epistle, apostle and pestle the way I do.
It is not 100% clear to me just why Aristotle is pronounced the way it is. Given his Greek name Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, you would expect him to have the same name in English, Aristoteles, and for it to be pronounced ˌærɪˈstɒtəliːz. (Compare Praxiteles.) Like other Greek names, it would have passed through Latin and become subject to the Latin stress rule (light penultimate syllable, therefore antepenultimate stress).
But this must be one of the rather few classical names that has taken on a distinctive English form rather than keeping the Latin form. Other examples would be the Roman/Latin names Livy ˈlɪvi for Livius, Ovid ˈɒvɪd for Ovidius, and Horace ˈhɒrɪs for Horatius and the Greek names Homer ˈhəʊmə for Ὅμηρος, Hómēros (Latin Homerus), Hesiod ˈhiːsiəd for Ἡσίοδος Hēsíodos (Latin Hesiodus), and Pindar ˈpɪndə for Πίνδαρος Pindaros (Latin Pindarus). I don’t know why we have these special English forms: for most classical names we just stick with the Latin.
To get back to Aristotle: given the underlying representation ærɪstɒtl with a final non-syllabic l, Chomsky and Halle’s SPE rules would predict that the main stress would indeed fall on the heavy final syllable (i.e. on the ɒ), but that the word would then be subject to the Alternating Stress Rule moving the main stress back to the initial syllable (i.e. stressing the vowel æ). Result!
So the pronunciation favoured by Kevin and Tim would constitute an exception to the ASR, in just the same way as words such as final-stressed guarantee, macaroon, chimpanzee etc. are exceptions to it. The pronunciation favoured by everyone else would be the regular one.