Even in my sixties, even as an inveterate logophile, I still on occasion discover I have been mispronouncing a word (or rather pronouncing it in a way that turns out to be unhistorical) and have to retrain myself. This just happened, for instance, with duodenum, which I have all my life pronounced /dyu-ˈä-də-nəm/ (dyoo-AH-dənəm) but which has the traditional pronunciation /ˌdü-ə-ˈdē-nəm/ (dyoo-ə-DEE-nəm), based on the Latin duodēnum digitōrum “of twelve digits, inches, or finger’s breadths” (to quote the OED; note that the Russian equivalent of duodenum is двенадцатиперстная кишка ‘twelve-finger gut’); the Latin long ē makes the syllable stressed in English, and since I like to preserve such bits of linguistic history, I choose to say it the traditional way despite the fact that my previous pronunciation is listed as an alternate in both Merriam-Webster and AHD.
But what am I to do about secretory (which I have been encountering in my editing work)? I’ve never actually said the word, as far as I know, and I had no strong intuitions about how to say it, so naturally I turned to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate which is always at my elbow and found “\ˈsē-krə-ˌtȯr-ē, especially British si-ˈkrē-t(ə-)rē\.” Fine, I thought, Americans say SEE-krətoree, I’m an American, I’ll say SEE-krətoree. But then I opened AHD and found only sĭ-krē′-tə-rē (si-KREE-təree)! Well, dammit, let me check the New Oxford American Dictionary (3rd ed.). Same story: only si-KREE-təree. So I turn to the Varied Reader and ask: if you are familiar with this word, how do you say it? And if you happen to know how American doctors and others who use the word professionally say it, that would be especially appreciated. I hate not knowing how to pronounce things.