Merriam-Webster will be happy to email you a word every day, with its uses, examples of use, and etymology. This is an informative service, and recommended. However, the pronunciations M-W recommends are often slovenly, at times too-obviously reflecting practices of ignorant people. This just encourages, and serves to justify, sloppy speech. It also bedevils new Americans (and our children, too) who are trying their best to learn our language. It’s no wonder that the English spoken by people who were educated in India, Africa, or the Mid-East, for example, is often clearer and more intelligible than that of native Americans such as myself.
Example: How would you say “exasperate”? The folks at M-W seem to pronounce it \ig-ZAS-puh-rayt\. Or perhaps they don’t actually say it this way, themselves; they just think that most Americans do, and therefore we all should.
There are several problems with “\ig-ZAS-puh-rayt\”:
(a) Where did the initial ‘i’ and ‘g’ come from? What’s wrong with ‘e’ and ‘x’ (\ks\), just as spelled? I’ve lived in six U.S. states (both coasts and in between); I don’t think I’ve ever heard “\ig-ZAS-puh-rayt\”.
(b) The derivation of the word is ‘ex’, plus ‘asper’, plus a common suffix. In English, we would split this word, if needed, both in speaking and in spelling, exactly that way: ex-asper…’. M-W splits the initial consonant between two syllables, resulting in a \ZAS\ that has no historical justification.
(c) If we must have \puhrayt\, at least split it \puhr-ayt\, giving a decent respect to the embedded ‘asper’, and the existence of ‘ate’ \ayt\ (not ‘rate’) as an English suffix with the required meaning.
(d) Any recommended pronunciation, such as \ig-ZAS-puh-rayt\, either respects the evolution of the word, or privileges the speech of one class or region. In the past, the speech of wealthy white people in the Northeast was privileged over the speech of, for example, whites in Tennessee or Idaho, and over racial minorities as well. The only way to avoid such snobbery is to base pronunciation on the structure of the word itself, and its evolution over time.
“Not a sermon; just a harangue.”
(References: See the discussion of “speak as you spell” in Modern English Usage, 2d edition, p.483; see also the analogous discussion in the 1st edition, p.466f. Fowler would have liked “\ig-ZAS-puh-rayt\”.)