At yesterday’s meeting we had a presentation from someone introducing a discussion on the future of the island’s magnificent Cultural Centre.
Sir George Martin of international music fame built it in 2006 as a gift to Montserratians. This is the same George Martin who established a state-of-the-art recording studio, Montserrat Air Studios, at the historic Waterworks estate in the 1970s; it attracted international stars of the calibre of Elton John and added to the island's fame as a welcoming isle. The new cultural landfall cost nearly US$3 million and is a now famous venue for local and international conferences in addition to being a multi-purpose performing centre.
The reason our speaker had come to discuss the matter with us was that he was anxious to consult all the stakeholders (older readers will groan at this word). As well as people living in Montserrat, performers, DfID etc., ‘stakeholders’ includes Montserratians living in the diaspora. Which he called the diˈæspərə.
In LPD I give two versions of the pronunciation of diaspora, but in both cases with aɪ in the first syllable. They differ in stress: daɪˈæspərə and ˌdaɪəˈspɔːrə. I discussed the issue of the stress pattern of this and similar words in a posting in this blog over five years ago (blog, 20 Jan 2007)
And then there is the word diaspora. It has an etymologically short penultimate o (Greek διασπορά diasporá, ‘sowing around, scattering’), and a corresponding traditional English pronunciation /daɪˈæspərə/. But I recently heard someone pronounce it /ˌdaɪəˈspɔːrə/. The spelling doesn’t tell you whether the o is long or short: and that’s the factor that determines the stressing. Because of the Latin stress rule.
Given that we’re talking about antepenultimate stress, ought I to add to LPD our speaker’s version with i in the first syllable?
English aɪ weakens to i before a vowel or word-finally and to ɪ ~ ə before a consonant. So for strong~weak alternation in di- we can compare words such as dilemma daɪˈlemə, dɪˈlemə, direct daɪˈrekt, dəˈrekt, where weakening is not uncommon.
Exploring other words with unstressed prevocalic di-, I find diaconal, di(a)eresis, dianthus, diaphanous, diaphysis, diastole, diathesis, diatomite, diazepam, Diogenes, Dioscuri, diotic, dioxide, dioxin, and diurnal. For all these — none are what you would call everyday words — I give only daɪ, with no weakened variant. Does anyone in fact weaken to di- in any of them?
Compare however the proper names (San) Diego, Dieppe, where di- is the only possibility. But Diana always has daɪ-.