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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 114873 times)

pwhodges

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #50 on: 20 May 2012, 07:28 »

Well, it's still a silent e; but I presume that you are remarking on the difference in the shift in, say ton/tone compared with on/one.
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English is weird
« Reply #51 on: 20 May 2012, 07:53 »

Actually there is also don/done. But consider also phon/phone, and then gone!  "on" is very irregular.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #52 on: 20 May 2012, 12:21 »

Oh, and how do you pronounce pen, pin, and pan.  I say the last one different, but pin and pen would sound exactly the same for me.
Ditto for my Tennessee-born spouse. I had to ask her to repeat pin or pen.

All different for me. I have no clue how you can pronounce pen and pin as the same, pen and pan might seem the same for me.
This.  Except I pronounce pen and pan differently.


Here's another one:  Bag (rhymes with 'flag') or Bag (identical to 'bog')?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #53 on: 20 May 2012, 12:44 »

I asked a girl who is from North Carolina how she'd say all these words, and she pronounces them the same as me - but she says that people from small towns where she's from would pronounce them all the same. I think it is relevant to mention that she's a Cambridge chorister, which is rather fatal to one's native accent.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #54 on: 20 May 2012, 18:33 »

My wife does the pin/pen thing, she's from Missourri.  I think it's a southern thing in this country, and IIRC southeastern American accents borrow a lot from Irish and English country accents. 

It's where the farmers settled early on...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #55 on: 20 May 2012, 19:11 »

Oh don't even start with Misery/Mizzourah...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #56 on: 20 May 2012, 20:59 »

You can tell your location in the South without GPS by the pronunciation of "New Orleans".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #57 on: 20 May 2012, 21:08 »

"Welcome to N'awlin!"
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #58 on: 20 May 2012, 23:01 »

Oddly you can do the same in England with St. Ives and St. Austell.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #59 on: 21 May 2012, 02:22 »

St. Ives
There is a suburb of Sydney called St. Ives. The most common local pronunciation is "Snives".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #60 on: 21 May 2012, 10:15 »

Did you know you can get drunk on water?

The process is just like getting drunk on land.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #61 on: 21 May 2012, 17:24 »

Quote
"...it's rather unpleasantly like getting drunk"

"What's so upleasant about getting drunk?" 


"Ask a glass of water..."

        ~~Ford Prefect to Arthur dent, on the jump into hyperspace
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #62 on: 22 May 2012, 08:55 »

That last one is hilarious. Totally missed it when I read the book since I read the Swedish translation..
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #63 on: 22 May 2012, 18:27 »

That's from the (original) BBC radio version.  May not have made it into the books, it was a throwaway line. 

When they do make the jump, Arthur vows never to be cruel to a gin-and-tonic again...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #64 on: 23 May 2012, 02:11 »

I feel so young.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #65 on: 23 May 2012, 02:36 »

Oh, it was definitely in the book; that line was the first thing I thought of after IICIH's post.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #66 on: 23 May 2012, 17:28 »

RP is received pronunciation - posh English, basically.
Received Pronunciation is an odd term. I was taught that "received" meant "accepted (as authoritative)" as in the term "received wisdom", but that usage of the word is not even listed in my dictionary of American English so I don't know if it is current in the USA. RP is still influential in Australia as a standard for educated speech, though much less so than in the past as you can hear by listening to our Prime Minister. When I was going to accent reduction classes, the pronunciation standard at which we were supposed to be aiming was similar to RP (at least in Australian ears... :lol:). Geoffrey Rush would be an example.

Edit: I moved this from the Blog thread because it seemed more appropriate here.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #67 on: 23 May 2012, 17:32 »

But the RP usage fits, doesn't it, as "accepted" or "authoritative" pronunciation?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #68 on: 23 May 2012, 22:31 »

Where I come from, RP is Rice Pudding...

 :-D :psyduck: :mrgreen:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #69 on: 24 May 2012, 01:43 »

GB Shaw, who left money to fund a competition to create a phonetic alphabet for English, was entirely clear about this: his late majesty King George V.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #70 on: 24 May 2012, 01:47 »

How do you say the word "often"?

Do you pronounce the t or not?


The spelling pronunciation link is funny, words change over time, but spelling is now (pretty much) fixed.  I took a class on the history of English and an essay we had pointed out that increased literacy rates have actually changed the common pronunciations of some words.  Most people who speak English can also read it now, which was not the case for most of the history of the language.  "Often" was given as an example of a word for which the common pronunciation is shifting to match the spelling.  When I read that I was skeptical, I don't pronounce the 't', but after becoming aware of it I found that most people do.  The 't' has only entered the pronunciation because most people learn to spell the word around the same time they learn to say it. 

(both pronunciations are listed in the OED)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #71 on: 24 May 2012, 02:07 »

I use both pronunciations, I think.  But my mother used to say it like "orphan".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #72 on: 24 May 2012, 03:07 »

I use both pronunciations, I think.  But my mother used to say it like "orphan".
I only say "off'n", but I quite often hear "off-ten", and even "orphan" off'n on.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #73 on: 24 May 2012, 03:22 »

"Hiccup" isn't a change across the pond, it's the standard spelling in the UK. (I have a 1960s British grammar book that unequivocally says '"hiccough" is wrong'). In fact, I've hardly ever seen "hiccough" used outside discussions of the "the many pronunciations of -ough".

That's interesting, I think I write hiccough. I've never had to write it in a setting where it would be marked for spelling, so I don't know what the accepted view is (and frankly if you based your accepted view of correct spelling on my primary school teachers' marking, there would be spelling anarchy).

I say off'n, but we sometimes sing off-t'n when it fits better to the music. There's usually an extensive discussion about it first, though, since we have many different accents and also two linguists.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #74 on: 24 May 2012, 04:13 »

Hiccough is such a familiar spelling to me that I'm sure I've seen it in stories, not just in a discussion of spelling and pronunciation. That makes me think it's an obsolete spelling. But this entry from Wikipedia might clarify:
"OED etymology note " Hiccough was a later spelling, app. under the erroneous impression that the second syllable was cough, which has not affected the received pronunciation, and ought to be abandoned as a mere error."
There's that RP again.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #75 on: 24 May 2012, 06:28 »

W.S. Gilbert, in The Pirates of Penzance, spends a fair bit of time on a pun based on the identical pronounciation of "often" and "orphan" by posh Englishmen of the 1870's. 

"...do you know what it's like to be an orphan?" 

"Yes, often..."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #76 on: 24 May 2012, 09:07 »

Speaking of RP: I often listen to at least a few minutes of BBC news over National Public Radio stations or on satellite radio on the road, and that and this thread make me wonder how received pronunciation deals with the R sound. It seems to me that words ending in a vowel end instead with an R, as in "idear" for "idea," while the R sound is entirely dropped in places American English would voice it.
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pwhodges

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #77 on: 24 May 2012, 09:49 »

I don't add an "r" at the end of "idea".  You may be thinking of the use of the tongue rather than a stop to join words like "idea of"; this I do - but it is actively avoided when singing, because it becomes ugly and slovenly-sounding when drawn out.  But I would also not voice the "r" at the end of "father", though again one might appear in a phrase like "father of".

As for RP, it's not fixed.  I would describe it as the speech of a well-educated person of the home counties (the area around London), and I would have to admit that this is commonly taken to mean more particularly those who went to a public school (i.e. a private one) such as Winchester or Eton (or in my case The King's School, Canterbury); but this does change with time, and so RP now is not the same as the RP that was spoken by King George V, for instance.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #78 on: 24 May 2012, 10:05 »

I don't add an "r" at the end of "idea".  You may be thinking of the use of the tongue rather than a stop to join words like "idea of"; this I do - but it is actively avoided when singing, because it becomes ugly and slovenly-sounding when drawn out.  But I would also not voice the "r" at the end of "father", though again one might appear in a phrase like "father of".
As for RP, it's not fixed.  I would describe it as the speech of a well-educated person of the home counties (the area around London), and I would have to admit that this is commonly taken to mean more particularly those who went to a public school (i.e. a private one) such as Winchester or Eton (or in my case The King's School, Canterbury); but this does change with time, and so RP now is not the same as the RP that was spoken by King George V, for instance.

I think I hear "idea-r" or similar on BBC, but I'll listen again. RP American English: Is there such a thing? American radio/TV announcers have seemed to have the same midwestern voice. It sort of sounds like me. But in a Detroit choir, we were often told to lose our nasal "aaanh" sound (lips drawn back). If we listened for it, it was quite obvious and unpleasant.

To state the obvious, if I put a voice on the people on this forum, I suppose they all sound like me. So there was a moment of surprise to hear your voice pronouncing the "ough" sounds, followed in milliseconds by "Well, how the hell did I expect him to sound?" I'd probably have the same reaction to hearing all the forumfolk not born in the U.S., including Akima, who just mentioned accent reduction class.
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pwhodges

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #79 on: 24 May 2012, 10:19 »

The term RP is used specifically to imply "standard British English speech", and is not used for any other speech.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #80 on: 24 May 2012, 10:41 »

The term RP is used specifically to imply "standard British English speech", and is not used for any other speech.
I assumed that. I should have put my expression in quotes. As to standard American speech, Wikipedia offers this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American which contains a link to a northern cities vowel shift. I'm not familiar enough with the descriptions of sounds, but I assume my unpleasant short A sound is included in the shift. The link suggests that Michigan people, especially Detroiters, think there's is the standard American English, whereas it's centered several hundred miles west.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #81 on: 24 May 2012, 11:05 »

hahah the nasal 'a' I have it.  That and the 'o' said as an 'ah' are the elements of my home accent (Rochester, ny (RAHchester)).  I was well aware of it with how people said my name.  Kaaaaat.  The 'a' is just squished and drawn out.  Alison, formerly of these forums and native of Canada makes fun of me for it.  There really is nothing worse that hearing your own accent.  When I speak sometimes I shudder at the sounds I have made.  Paaaint, Paaants, Aaaalison.  uggghh. 

 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #82 on: 24 May 2012, 11:26 »

I was surprised that the vowel shift described in the link extends to not far from Albany.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #83 on: 24 May 2012, 11:29 »

And your uggghh, that sounds ok.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #84 on: 25 May 2012, 05:27 »

I thought I'd coined it last night:

deBACulous: "It was like a slow-motion train wreck! It was debaculous!"

But no ... Urban Dictionary lists it. Another similar word: debaclypse.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #85 on: 25 May 2012, 18:36 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #86 on: 25 May 2012, 19:55 »

Why is there a hard g in "finger" and "linger" but then it sounds awkward in "singer"?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #87 on: 25 May 2012, 21:49 »

In my dialect (pretty close to CNN English) they are almost identical. I had to sound them out before deciding that the difference is that it's "fing-ger" but "sing-er".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #88 on: 25 May 2012, 23:01 »

I think it's because singer comes from the verb to sing; but finger and linger do not (there's no "fing" or "ling"). 

Other examples; sting -> stinger
fling -> flinger  ("Who flung that?")
string -> stringer
bring -> bringer
ring -> ringer
ping -> pinger
cling -> clinger
ding -> dinger (fries are done!)
sling -> slinger
wring -> wringer
spring -> springer
swing -> swinger
zing -> zinger

The only other hard g, no -ing word besides finger and linger I can thnk of is malinger, which is a cop-out. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #89 on: 25 May 2012, 23:21 »

I think it's because singer comes from the verb to sing; but finger and linger do not (there's no "fing" or "ling"). 

Actually, I've heard 'ling' used as slang for cunnilingus, which puts 'linger' in a whole new light for me.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #90 on: 26 May 2012, 05:09 »

Well, that's the ling part of lingual, referring to tongue. Apparently lingam, that other stiffen-able poking-out thingie with nerve endings on the tip, is not related.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #91 on: 27 May 2012, 12:50 »

Then why is 'lingerie' spelled like it is?  I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.


And don't get me started on the spelling and pronunciation of 'hors d'oeuvre' (damn you frog-eaters!)...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #92 on: 27 May 2012, 12:54 »

From Latin lineus via French linge meaning linen.

The term "lining" for the inside of, say, a suit comes from the obsolete use of the word "line" to mean linen (which would have been used for the purpose) - which word survives in modern use as part of linseed.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #93 on: 27 May 2012, 14:19 »

Then why is 'lingerie' spelled like it is?  I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.
Maybe it started out as the edible kind? Probably not.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #94 on: 27 May 2012, 16:12 »

I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.
Do you go the whole hog and pronounce the J in the French "soft" fashion (IPA: ʒ like the J at the beginning of Jacques in the nursery song "Frère Jacques"? The mapping of sounds onto letters is tricky even in English, and when you add all the foreign words picked up by a magpie language it it gets still messier.

A chronic problem for Chinese people, particularly in terms of getting our names pronounced correctly, is that our language has no native alphabet, and romanization schemes like Wade-Giles or Pinyin are designed more for academic correctness than ease of use by people with no specialist training. But why do English-speakers insist on using the "French J sound" in Beijing when that pronunciation is foreign to both English and Chinese?! How did that incorrect pronunciation get started? I assume it was around the time English-speakers stopped calling the capital of China Peking, but that was before I was born. Does anyone know how the Beige-ing thing got started?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #95 on: 27 May 2012, 16:35 »

Is the question about sounding the j incorrectly in Beijing? I had to google the subject, but the top answers I found weren't all that helpful. Here was one: http://www.lostlaowai.com/blog/china-stuff/from-peking-to-beijing-a-long-and-bumpy-trip/. How do you pronounce China's capital?
With a little experience with transliteration in India, I wondered at the time of the change if it was a trans-illiterate stretch to go from Peking to Beijing, and some of the other changes didn't make any more sense. Are the most correct pronunciations somewhere in the middle?
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Redball

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #96 on: 27 May 2012, 16:51 »

How do forum readers use the most common words for the human posterior: butt, bottom, bum, ass. Different words in different places? Stick to one word and use it almost always?
I prefer bottom, as being more neutral than what I consider the more negative ass and butt. I understand bum in written and spoken English, but it isn't a part of my usage. Butt often teams with ugly, and that doesn't apply, certainly not to the female bottoms that catch my eye.
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jwhouk

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #97 on: 27 May 2012, 19:44 »

South End of a Northbound <animal/person/whatever>?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #98 on: 27 May 2012, 23:47 »

But why do English-speakers insist on using the "French J sound" in Beijing when that pronunciation is foreign to both English and Chinese?! How did that incorrect pronunciation get started? I assume it was around the time English-speakers stopped calling the capital of China Peking, but that was before I was born. Does anyone know how the Beige-ing thing got started?

It is curious how some changes in romanisation appear to make completely different words - Mumbai/Bombay is another case.  Anyway, in spite of the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation, there are rules that apply much of the time - and as far as I can recall, ei in English is always followed by a soft j, because those words all come from French - the fact that it might be written with a g is beside the point.  Beige, liege are the obvious examples.  Also, j in English is uncommon away from the first letter of a word. To represent the harder j sound, it should be preceded by a, as in major, aging or paging - though the uncertainty of that use of g is shown by the fact that aging is also spelt ageing.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #99 on: 28 May 2012, 03:51 »

I'd say Bah-ry (as in bat), buh-ry (not sure how to explain this as I'm aware that my u sounds are very unusual for foreigners or southerners, just a sort of guttural sound) and beh-ry (as in bed).

As in "borough"?  Because that's a very unusual way to pronounce it... pretty sure it's not considered proper anywhere, and the only place I can remember hearing anything similar is that Scissor Sisters song, "I Can't Decide," where it rhymed with "furry."
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