Some words can be pronounced more than one way. Famously, Caribbean has two pronunciations: One with the accent on the second syllable, one with a strong accent on the third and a lesser on the first. The vowel sounds aren’t much changed. Fair enough.
But it drives me batty when people do this for words that only have one valid pronunciation. For some reason people take it in their heads to start mispronouncing certain words, and then they do it as a matter of habit.
This phenomenon was probably at its most annoying in the late ’90s, when the word harassment was in the news a lot. Now as you know, harass has its stress on the second syllable. Apparently this wasn’t PC enough though, and people started mispronouncing this—deliberately, I’m convinced—as HAIR-ess instead of the correct har-ASS. Absolutely moronic. There is no excuse for this kind of verbal stupidity.
But in the last decade or so, car commercials (and sundry) have been breaking new ground with a brand new non-word: finnance. Note the extra N. The word finance has only one pronunciation: the vowel is a long I, and the stress is on the first syllable. No exceptions! Yet this has been mutilated from FI-nance into fin-ANCE. Short I, accent on the second syllable.
I’m pretty sure this has more to do with laziness than intentional stupidity. At a guess, the broken form probably fit the cadence of some yutz doing a commercial and slowly the disease started to spread. It’s still infuriatingly dumb.
When I become a supervillain, I will mandate that anyone mispronouncing the word this way is obligated to give me whatever they’re selling for free. Cars, boats, jewelry, whatever. But the punishment for mispronouncing harass will be much more heinous, probably something along the lines of being forced to listen to some kind of folk-screamo fusion.