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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 7:14 pm 
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We have discussed language evolution in the past, but I see an increasing trend, in the mass-media, toward novel pronunciations.

In the past, we have heard two main pronunciations of February. There are those who say "Feb-brew-ary," and those who say, "Feb-you-ary." This year, I observe an increasing number of announcers and such saying "Febberrary." It is distracting.

Just as when certain news readers decided t pronounce harrassment as "harrisment," these mispronunciations are bound to spread, like a viral epidemic.

"Wh" is rapidly being replaced, by television and radio speakers, with a plain "w," so that, with their typical accent, "when" becomes "win," and "whale" becomes "well." Listening to this sort of talk becomes an exercise in decipherment.

It is not entirely a literacy issue, for example, pronouncing a central "e" in the word "aren't," which is, in fact, supposed to be a contraction of a"re not," in which the only "e" is silent. This clearly comes from reading the word, at some point.

Finally, I will mention one more word that is being widely replaced by a variant. The word "strength" is being pronounced as if it were "strenth," though, thankfully, I have not noticed anyone pronouncing "length," as "lenth."

Am I opposed to dialect? No. I am just distracted by these changes, which, increasingly, are being noted by lexicographers, and, in some cases, even included as alternate pronunciations, in modern dictionaries.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 7:19 pm 
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Yo, Wald, wassup? Check wid my peeps on dat, hey? Word.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 8:44 pm 
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Walden wrote:
We have discussed language evolution in the past, but I see an increasing trend, in the mass-media, toward novel pronunciations.

In the past, we have heard two main pronunciations of February. There are those who say "Feb-brew-ary," and those who say, "Feb-you-ary." This year, I observe an increasing number of announcers and such saying "Febberrary." It is distracting.

But not as distracting as "nukeler" for "nuclear'.

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Just as when certain news readers decided t pronounce harrassment as "harrisment," these mispronunciations are bound to spread, like a viral epidemic.

Are you referring to the placing of the main accent on the first syllable? That's what my 37-year-old American Heritage dictionary shows as the only pronunciation, so the version with the accent on the second syllable (which is what I have) is presumably the "mispronunciation". So, are you willing to change your pronunciation to bring it into accord with the standard?

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"Wh" is rapidly being replaced, by television and radio speakers, with a plain "w," so that, with their typical accent, "when" becomes "win," and "whale" becomes "well." Listening to this sort of talk becomes an exercise in decipherment.

I've had simple "w" all my life, so I'm glad to see the rest of the country catching up. I originally had every case of accented "en" rhyming with "in" (and "or" rhyming with "ar"), but have modified my pronunciation of these as an adult. I've never rhymed "well" and "whale", however.

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It is not entirely a literacy issue, for example, pronouncing a central "e" in the word "aren't," which is, in fact, supposed to be a contraction of a"re not," in which the only "e" is silent. This clearly comes from reading the word, at some point.

It's not a literacy issue at all. The US has never had a nationwide pronunciation standard--although the broadcast industry has actively tried to promote one through schools for announcers. What you're seeing is local standards that you are not personally familiar with. Even pronunciations that seem quite "substandard" to most of us, like "ax" for "ask" often have a very long history. Your own pronunciation of "harassment" (unlike your spelling of it :P) is not substandard, it's just nonstandard.

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Finally, I will mention one more word that is being widely replaced by a variant. The word "strength" is being pronounced as if it were "strenth," though, thankfully, I have not noticed anyone pronouncing "length," as "lenth."


I can't do that one, because I pronounce them as "stringth" and "lingth".

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Am I opposed to dialect? No. I am just distracted by these changes, which, increasingly, are being noted by lexicographers, and, in some cases, even included as alternate pronunciations, in modern dictionaries.

It's been a long time since lexicographers thought that they could prescribe pronunciaiton. All they do now is note trends. If only the US had a nice Academy to dictate language, as France does, perhaps we'd soon hear everyone speaking the dialect of some small town in Iowa. (You know, I tried and tried, but I couldn't come up with the name of even one city in Iowa--not even the capital. Fortunately, my granddaughter is still in high school and was able to name Des Moines on demand.)

Of course, that's not how the spoken language works. It's a very complex process, and has little to do with official standards--even when such standards actually exist--which they do not in the US.

There are some very interesting changes going on right now in places like Boston and Philadelphia. There are even changes that are increasing pronunciation differences between central Philly and the suburbs. If you're interested in some of the causal factors, R.L. Trask's Historical Linguistics has some interesting info--especially on William Labov's study of internal linguistic changes in the speech of Martha's Vineyard in the '60s. Lyle Campbell's book of the same title also contains lots of relevant data. If you're brave and own flame-retardent garments, you could even bring this up on the sci.lang newsgroup.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 9:05 pm 
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There is a lot of room between "official standards" and denying the existance of mispronunciations, which is what "noting trends" really means, I guess.

I get a kick out of correctly pronouncing words like dour (rhymes with tour, not with sour) or flaccid (flak-sid, not flassid).

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 4:33 am 
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Bloomfield wrote:
I get a kick out of correctly pronouncing words like dour (rhymes with tour, not with sour) or flaccid (flak-sid, not flassid).


So who keeps saying 'flaccid' to you and why? :D

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 8:57 am 
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jbarter wrote:
Bloomfield wrote:
I get a kick out of correctly pronouncing words like dour (rhymes with tour, not with sour) or flaccid (flak-sid, not flassid).


So who keeps saying 'flaccid' to you and why? :D


You know, I keep asking her to shut up about her last boy friend.... :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 10:11 am 
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Isn't flaccid a lake in New York? :D

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 10:43 am 
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Once heard someone say..."She went in that genital direction". A newscaster could get in a bit of trouble for that one!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:09 am 
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So, how does one pronounce "Uranus"?

By the way, I was talking to my old Okie grandma one time about her wheat, and she couldn't figure out what I was talking about. She asked me, "Weet? What is that, a bird? Oh, you mean 'hweet'..."

I think it's in the water down there.... :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:03 pm 
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To add to Walden's observation of "strenth" and "lenth"

I am hearing people often leave out the G following an N in words. Especially when this is the end of the word. Cunning becomes Cunneen, etc.

(A note on the above: is the T in often silent or not?)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:43 pm 
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antstastegood wrote:
To add to Walden's observation of "strenth" and "lenth"

I am hearing people often leave out the G following an N in words. Especially when this is the end of the word. Cunning becomes Cunneen, etc.

(A note on the above: is the T in often silent or not?)


In American English, the T in often is silent. In fact, it's a case of what is called "hypercorrectness" to pronounce it. Same hypercorrectness occurs in pronouncing "clothes" with a th-sound followed by the s-sound. The accepted pronounciation is "clohz" (in the same vein, there is no th-sound in "months").

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Last edited by Bloomfield on Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:46 pm 
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jbarter wrote:
Bloomfield wrote:
I get a kick out of correctly pronouncing words like dour (rhymes with tour, not with sour) or flaccid (flak-sid, not flassid).


So who keeps saying 'flaccid' to you and why? :D


The one that gets me is people who pronounce "err" as if it were spelled "air", or even "error."

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:58 pm 
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My top two pronunciation peeves:

Police officers (bless them) on the news saying, "At this point AND time.." rather than "IN time.."

"Ice Tea." I don't mind people saying this so much, but I hate it when it's written on menus this way rather than "Iced Tea."

And why can't people figure out the difference between the contraction "it's" and the possesive "its", for Petes sake?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:05 pm 
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I generally dislike "at this time" or "at this point in time" for "now." I don't mind flying but always want to stuff my ears. Airline English is the worst there is. Give me dock workers any day.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:20 pm 
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Bloomfield wrote:
I generally dislike "at this time" or "at this point in time" for "now."


I agree completely. It's like saying "dentifrice" instead of "toothpaste."


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