I first became aware of the word 'capsicum' when I moved to Australia. It's what American English speakers call a 'green pepper'. But I recently became aware that some speakers of AusEng call it a 'capsicun', with an [n] sound.
I first heard it from the young lady at the pizza place when she read my order back to me. "So you're getting the pizza with capsicun, onions..."
I was surprised, but I pretended not to hear her, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. "What was that?" I asked.
"I said 'capsican, onions...'" and so on. So it was dinkum.
Then the next week I ordered the same pizza again, and this time it was a young man who said 'capsicun'. This kind of thing always sets the linguistic sense a-tingle. Is this happening with lots of people? Is it an age thing? Economic level? Education level? And what's driving it?
Since then, I have found that many of my students say 'capsicun'. Sometimes they're surprised to discover that they say it.
As a linguist, I don't care whether people say 'capsicum' with an [m] or an [n]. The two sounds are pretty similar, and speech communities sometimes swap. Miss Perfect herself says the word 'something' with an [n] in the middle. You probably say 'input' with an [m] without realising. But that's because of a process known as assimilation, where a sound changes because of its proximity to a similar sound nearby. It's strange for 'capsicum' to be changing to an [n] seemingly independent of context.
Well, yesterday, I found a tantalising clue that this might be part of a larger pattern. The flowers I got for Mothers' Day were clearly marked 'chrysantheman', as seen in the photo below.
The chase continues. Further updates as warranted. In the meantime, do you say 'capsicun' or 'chrysanthemun'? And where are you from? Become a data point in comments.