When Shortening “Synchronize,” Best Leave Off the “h”
Computer users are often concerned with synchronizing their various programs and machines. The process is so common that the three-syllable word synchronize is usually shortened to its first syllable.
The one-syllable shortening has become so acceptable that both the OED and Merriam-Webster have entries for it. Both sync and synch are given as spellings, and a browser search indicates that both forms are in about equal use:
How to Synch Outlook …
How to Synch Google Calendar with a SmartPhone …
How to Sync Google Services With Your Mobile Device
How to sync an iPhone with two (or more) Computers
How to sync with .Mac and connected devices
How to synch new records between two tables ?
The spelling synch presents no difficulty of pronunciation to speakers who know the origin and pronunciation of the shortened word.
synchronize [(sĭng’krə-nīz’] c.1624, “to occur at the same time,” from Gk. synchronizein “be of the same time.”
However, while the spelling sync [sĭngk] preserves the sound of the first syllable of synchronize, the spelling synch suggests the pronunciation [(sĭnch].
Sounds of ch
The English spelling ch can represent three different sounds. The first and most common sound is the sound heard at both ends of church.
The second sound represented by ch is [k]. This spelling applies to words from the Greek, words like synchronize. However, the trouble with shortening the Greek word synchronize to synch is that the overwhelming (and pattern-forming) majority of one-syllable English words ending in ch are pronounced with the first sound of ch: each, itch, beach, coach, fetch, march, mulch, peach, porch, which. etc.
The pronunciation shift may have already begun
What provoked this post was a spelling I noticed in a scientific article on the topic of amino acids.
The writer makes the topic interesting by explaining chemical processes in popular terms. In one example he compares cells and proteins to words and letters. He postulates a game hosted by Regis Philbin (italics mine):
You can rotate each wheel at will and then press a button to see if the combination that you chose is one of the one million winning combinations. You can keep doing this until you give up. You think that this game is a synch.
The intended word is cinch [sĭnch], in the sense of “something easy to accomplish.”
I rest my case.
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