Neal Whitman has a very enjoyable post up about work that Elizabeth Hume is doing on metathesis. SC appreciates the reminder that this is the word he was reaching for in the recent discussion of "Calvary" and "calvary", as the type of phonological error that it could be.
At the end of the post, Dr. Whitman comments:
Aside from the above highlights, though, it seems that Semantic Compositions and I are in good company in enjoying fast food linguistic analysis: On p. 223, Hume has a fun discussion of the alteration of chipotle to chipolte.
At first, your host was moved to comment on his observation that he hasn't heard (perhaps more accurately, hasn't noticed) this alteration. But it certainly is within SC's experience that "chipotle" has different pronunciations among the crowd that likes to flash their knowledge of Spanish phonology versus those that tend to ruthlessly assimilate their pronunciations into English.
Essentially, the difference is a matter of vowel quality. A Spanish speaker, or KABC's traffic reporter (a man whose speech shows no trace whatsoever of a Spanish accent until he signs off and rolls the r's in his last name), pronounces "chipotle" as three distinct syllables. To use a grossly inappropriate non-IPA transcription system, it comes off as "chee-POTE-lay", with three distinct vowels serving as the nuclei of each syllable. On the other hand, people prone to butchering foreign borrowings pronounce it as "chip-POTE-l", with a syllabic "l" at the end just like "poodle" (SC will attest to versions with and without a geminate "p"; some people say "chi-POTE-l").
Webster's indicates four pronunciations as canonical, including a version which renders the last vowel as though it rhymed with the name "Lee". Your host can't say he's ever heard that one before. But there's a larger question that SC has no good answer to: are there single preferred pronunciations for words like this from the standpoint of a monolingual English speaker? Recognizing that there are a wide variety of regional accents, and just plain idiosyncratic features of individual speech, and that these will affect any one speaker's judgment of the "right" prounciation, how would one judge whether a pronunciation is better or worse in accordance with one's understanding of both the foreign word and English phonology?
This is not unlike the gradation in judgment we often make between "nuclear" and "nucular', where one prounciation carries the stigma of sounding uneducated. Your host imagines that, at least in some circles, pronouncing foreign words in an assimilated fashion sounds less educated, but it's also easy to imagine other social contexts where making a show of code-switching is considered merely pretentious. SC finds that he has no intuitions (or at least very weak ones) on the relative prestige of pronunciations of "chipotle".