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>What are the variant pronunciations and what's their regional
>distribution? (Approximately, if you know.)

I'd not presume to speak on all the possible variations across the USA.

> > In my parents', it would have been ["sin@m@]
>
>Is that a change to the phonemic composition of the word? Again,
>what is this pronunciation phonemically?

I'm at a loss how to respond to the question. The _i_ is like that in
"machine". When I say the word, my _i_ is like that in "bit". teh _@_ is
like the _u_ in "but". My final _a_ is like that in "father". (I always hate
when a book does this - " 'o' is like that in ..." as it always sends me
scurring).

> > but would have been perceived by them as being either archaic or an
>attempt
> > to put on airs. They'd have said _pictures_ ["pIktSVr'z] or ["pItsVr's]
>
>Is that last a typo for [tS], or did they really say "pitsers"?

Typo on my part. It should be [tS].

>Given what John said about _cinema_ in AmE, I don't understand how
>_cinema_ alternates with _pictures_.

Parts of the USA used to call them "moving piictures". In small towns with
no art galleries, there was no confusion. And this is not current - my
parents' speech is from the middle 1900's of the piedmont of South Carolina.

Same with anoither poster's reference to a woman calling it "the show". If
you have no live theatre, no confusion.

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