KUNG-FU QUA GONGFU.

A couple of interesting posts at the Log:
1) Victor Mair tells you everything you could possibly want to know about gongfu, starting with Kung-fu Tea (“Should it be gōngfu chá 工夫茶 or gōngfu chá 功夫茶? And does the name mean ‘tea that requires a lot of effort and skill to prepare’ or ‘martial arts tea’?”) and going into truly impressive detail about the history of all the words, characters, and ideas involved. I’ll present his paragraph summarizing the basic facts (aside from the issue of tea):

To summarize: gōngfu 工夫 and gōngfu 功夫 both started out around the 3rd c. AD referring to laborers, corvée or otherwise. During the ensuing centuries, they acquired increasingly abstract meanings: effort, time expended at work, skill, knack, mental discipline, job. As they evolved, their second syllable lost its overt tonality, becoming neutral. For the most part — up to the late 20th century — gōngfu 工夫 and gōngfu 功夫 were basically (but not entirely) interchangeable, though with gōngfu 工夫 being used more for mental or abstract phenomena and gōngfu 功夫 stressing physical aspects. It was only late in the life of gōngfu 工夫 and gōngfu 功夫 that the latter took on the meaning of “martial art,” apparently beginning in the region of Canton. Following on the coattails of the Bruce Lee Kung-fu craze and the public infatuation with martial arts novels, the notion of gōngfu 功夫 as a designation for martial arts explosively spread outward from the Cantonese-speaking regions of China to envelop the whole nation. This is by no means to assert that there were no martial arts in China before gōngfu 功夫 acquired this meaning. Quite the contrary, martial arts have a long and distinguished history in China, but they went by other names (this already overly long blog is not the place to embark upon a consideration of their history or nomenclature).

But if you have any interest in any of this, you’ll want to read the whole thing; it’s a real tour de force of philological investigation.
2) Today Geoff Pullum has a post making the simple and indisputable point that the OED’s categorization of qua as an English adverb is completely loony. Which inspires me to follow up this lively 2007 thread by repeating its question: if you use this slightly obnoxious Latinism, how do you say it? KWAH or KWAY? (I, an inveterate Anglicizer, use the latter, but I expect the LH readership to show an overwhelming preference for the former, as they did for PAH-chay versus my own PAY-see.)


Oh, and if you want to read an amusing anecdote about my first visit to the U.K. forty years ago, Geoff quoted it at the end of this post.

Comments

  1. It’s definitely /kwɑ/.

  2. [ˈkwɑˈɻulz]

  3. I say QUAH, not that I’m sure I’ve ever used the word in the wild (I mean, used it as a word, as opposed to pronouncing it while discussing its admissibility in a game such as Bananagrams).
    But why listen to me? I always thought “hoopoe” was pronounced “hoopoe”.

  4. Definitely KWAH. (I use it in speech unselfconsciously, or I did until tonight.)

  5. So did I until now, though the Linnaean name Upupa epops should have been a clue. m-w.com does list the spelling pronunciation, however, so we’re not alone.

  6. Hat, Dr. Maturin wouldn’t like your Anglicized pronunciation of Latin.
    For you, “quasi” is KWAY-zye, right?

  7. English is Maturin’s third language. Fourth if you count Latin.

  8. I don’t use “qua” qua “as”, but I do encounter it from time to time, where I mentally pronounce it /kwa/. Not /kwei/ – that’s spelled “quay”.
    Pace your 2007 discussion, I pronounce “pace” as /peis/, whether it means five feet, a particular speed, or a obnoxious latinate reference. Though after seeing people pronounce it in the classical latin way, I’d have been tempted to pronounce it /butta/.
    (Imagine the Parkay commercial done by non-rhotic voice talent.)

  9. Kway.
    “Quai” is pronounced “key” in my experience.
    Funny thing about 工夫 – a hard common word to translate from Japanese (pron. kufuu). It means something like “a slight modification to a thing or a slightly innovative/inventive method of doing something that solves a problem that’s not really that huge.”

  10. “a slight modification to a thing or a slightly innovative/inventive method of doing something that solves a problem that’s not really that huge.”
    “Tweak” ?

  11. No one has yet drawn attention to the circumstance that “qua” often means absolutely nothing – so I take this burden on myself. Pullum says, directly, not much more than this about its meaning:

    What is this word qua that is so crucial to what I just said? It’s a borrowing from Latin. It means something like “in the capacity of”, or simply “as”

    He ends his post with “[Comments are closed, qua comments.]”, which I interpret as a hidden, perhaps unconscious acknowledgement that “qua” is a silly, pretentious word of uncertain import. “Comments qua comments” rather than what ? Comments as apples ? Comments in the capacity of apples ?
    Pullum’s first example of use is:

    This was not going to be Barbara’s mushroom risotto at all; this was an olive oil risotto with mushrooms. Qua mushroom risotto it would not have ranked highly, but qua olive oil risotto it wasn’t too bad.

    A down-home, clearer way of putting this would be: “If you think of it as mushroom risotto, it would not … but if you think of it as olive oil risotto, it wasn’t too bad”. We’re talking here about ways of looking at something – bringing out certain features rather than others, describing something not just as “being an A and a B”, but as “being primarily an A with an additional bit of B thrown in” (or vice versa). “As” and “in the capacity of” are category-mistakes here.
    Another of Pullum’s examples is:

    The OED has just one quotation that could be said to look like an exception to what I just said: “A body corporate, quà corporate, cannot make an affidavit.” … I’d be prepared to dismiss it as simply a mistake, or as a use of corporate to mean corporate body, or as evidence that in the 18th century lawyers used qua to mean “considered as being”

    Here “qua” is pointless. A body corporate is a corporate body, dammit: it makes no sense to say “a body corporate as corporate”. “Considered as being corporate” is just as silly, because something corporate is something corporate, toot cute: there is no option of “considering” it to be something other than corporate. For the same reason, “a body corporate in the capacity of corporate” makes no sense. On the farm we would say simply: “something corporate cannot make an affidavit” – adding, if we feel particularly expansive, “only a person can make an affidavit. Something corporate is not a person”.
    There is a similarly screwy phenomenon in German, when you can read dumb expressions such as Wenn wir diesen Begriff als Begriff betrachten …. Sez I: how else are you going to betrachten a Begriff than as a Begriff ? It’s already a Begriff, verdammt nochmal, and there’s no getting away from that.

  12. Didn’t Dr Maturin have Catalan and Spanish and Erse and English before he had Latin?

  13. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    On the rare occasions that I use qua I always pronounce it kway, because that’s almost the only way I’ve heard it.
    For quasi I’m not consistent. I think I normally say KWAY-sigh or KWAY-SIGH (both syllables stressed), but if I’m talking to someone who might not recognize the fully anglicized form (a French person, for example) I say KWAH-zee. If the prefix has already cropped up and said by someone else in the same conversation I would normally pronounce it the way the previous person did.

  14. KWAH as in “Qua diddly qua qua” in the outro to Adam and the Ants’ “Stand and Deliver” (about 2:10 in).
    The “hey nonny nonny” of New Romanticism.

  15. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    [Comments are closed, qua comments.]
    Does anyone have any insight into why comments to Pullum’s posts are nearly always closed? I find it arrogant (no one could possibly add anything useful to what he has written) and very irritating. It’s not that I want to comment myself, but I’d certainly like to know what some of the more erudite vistors to Language Log (Mr Hat, for example) think about his posts.
    It’s a pity, because apart from this nasty feature in general I like his posts.

  16. KWAH

  17. Bathrobe says:

    So how would you pronounce sine qua non?

  18. Bathrobe says:

    Also, I was under the impression that 工夫 meant something like ‘holiday’ in Korean, but I can’t find anything to either prove it or disprove it.

  19. michael farris says:

    qua rhymes with law and blah for me (and obviously law and blah rhyme for me though I’m sure they don’t for some people).
    quasi can go either way, the first syllable is qua while the second is either zee or zye (zigh?) but tending toward the latter. I’d always voice the s as z and it hadn’t occured to me that some people wouldn’t. I’d recognize quayzigh but I really doubt that I’d say that.
    Similarly I wouldn’t have guessed a pronunciation of qua as rhyming with say in a million years, if I’ve ever heard it I wouldn’t have understood it as qua but would have thought it was some other word I don’t know or that the speaker had a brain fart on the way to saying something else.

  20. michael farris says:

    “Does anyone have any insight into why comments to Pullum’s posts are nearly always closed?”
    I suspect he’s one of those academics who has trouble remaining calm while interacting with outsiders about his field of expertise. I don’t mean that to sound as harsh as it might, it’s not criticism.

  21. He may have another, private site of hand-picked experts whose comments he can field.

  22. Geoff Pulham is a very nice man and (like many linguists) a superb writer and stylist. I exchanged some emails with him a few years ago, I think they were about animal rights. He is very funny, modest and completely benign, but I think he finds digressions from the topic of his post to be irritating, and so he cuts off the comments completely. If you don’t already, you may be interested to know that he was the keyboard player for Gino Washington & The Ram Jam Band. That was in the 1960s. You can see him briefly a few times in this video.

  23. Stu, I completely agree. I would rather die than say qua (but if I did it would be “kwah”). I’m surprised you’re an inveterate Anglicizer, Language. I’ve noticed that the kids of today (when they’ve studied Latin at all) are even keener than we were for fancy pronunciation: while we laughed at my headmaster for saying non-rhotic “erbs” for urbs, instead of “urrrbs” like the younger teachers, today I have a youngish friend who calls The Gentleman’s Relish (a British anchovy paste brand) “Pah-tum” instead of “Pay-tum”.

  24. Re: “Geoff Pulham is a very nice man […]”: That’s good to know, thanks. His Language Log posts frequently excoriate people for minor errors (or for non-errors that he thinks are errors); I’ve often wondered if he’s actually the arrogant jerk I think he comes off as, or if he’s actually funny/charming and it just doesn’t work on me. Your comment half-answers that question.

  25. My prediction about the preferences of commenters has been richly borne out; so far only Athel Cornish-Bowden is in my camp of mossy traditionalism.
    For you, “quasi” is KWAY-zye, right?
    Right!
    Does anyone have any insight into why comments to Pullum’s posts are nearly always closed?
    AJP is correct, both about Geoff’s niceness (I’ve exchanged many an e-mail with him myself) and about his irritation with digression. I myself (obviously) am on the opposite side of that divide, but I respect his feelings on the matter and understand why he’d rather not subject himself to irritation each time he posts. (Also, his beloved wife recently died, so I urge all and sundry to cut him some slack these days.)

  26. Bill Walderman says:

    “erbs” for urbs, instead of “urrrbs”
    Wasn’t the ancient Roman pronunciation closer to “oorrrps”?

  27. David L says:

    Kingsley Amis was, according to Martin, old-school on this question:
    “If you pronounced sine qua non sinny-qua-non he would yodel it back to you in music-hall Italian. It had to be sigh-nee-kway non. My favourite was his treatment of pace. No pah-kay for him, and certainly not pah-chay (more of the music-hall Italian). He said pay-see, as if describing a car or a fast bowler.”
    (Experience, footnote on p. 284)

  28. A man after my own heart! (Though I wouldn’t go as far as yodeling.)

  29. David Marjanović says:

    I always thought “hoopoe” was pronounced “hoopoe”.

    *blink* How is it pronounced? And why is it spelled that way?

    I think he finds digressions from the topic of his post to be irritating, and so he cuts off the comments completely.

    In addition, I wonder if he vastly overestimates the quantities of spam he’d have to expect.
    And yes, frankly, it does come across as sadistic: “now surely you want to talk about this interesting topic, but I won’t let you, because some of you might write something stupid, har har”.

  30. David Marjanović says:

    (Some of his recent posts almost spelled this out.)

  31. Jazz trumpeter Bill Walderman: Wasn’t the ancient Roman pronunciation closer to “oorrrps”?
    Yes, that’s what I ought to have written and it’s exactly how my Latin teacher said it. Thank you.

  32. AJP: Pullum, not Pulham. But thank you very much for rescuing him from (what to me felt like) a bit of creeping nastiness in the comments here.

  33. Prof Pullum used always to have his posts open to comments, but in December, after his one thousandth post on Language Log, in many of which he had experienced what he felt were very annoying comments, he paused posting to consider whether he wanted to continue. About a month later he started posting again, but from that point on he has had comments off.
    He is an amusing and very competent and, of course, knowledgeable writer, but, I think, how shall I put this? – perhaps pawky is the word. Charity towards those who disagree with him is, perhaps, not his strongest point.

  34. Midwestern accent.
    I pronounce qua, “kwah”.
    Quasi is “kwah-zee”.
    I had a junior high teacher named Mrs. Quay–I think that was how she spelled her name. It rhymed with “Ray.” (Well, I’m pretty sure of that…)
    And of course I reminded her about that famous WW II movie about the Japanese and that bridge across that river…
    However, I would pronounce Kwai to rhyme with “why.”
    Quay, the landing place for boats, is pronounced like “key.” Why? I would pronounce it to rhyme with “Ray,” just like the teacher’s name.
    Queue is pronounced “Q”; are there any other possible pronounciations, or is that too far off the subject?

  35. Pawky sounds right, and it is of course pronounced porky. Though I don’t read Language Log any more I wouldn’t be surprised if Geoff Pullum was pretending to be rude – or cross, or whatever – for literary effect.
    I agree with Ø, and I do hope Pullum’s not reading this, not least because I misspelt his name. Thank you for the correction; it’s hard to misspell “Ø”, though I could write Ö.

  36. a youngish friend who calls The Gentleman’s Relish (a British anchovy paste brand) “Pah-tum” instead of “Pay-tum”.
    Crown, did you know that anchovy paste qua indispensable condiment is very hard to get in Germany, except in expensive schischi establishments ? Caesar Salad made with Asian fish sauce is not up to the mark. I may have to move to somewhere more fishy.

  37. I enjoy Pullum’s posts and am kindly disposed toward him. I assume he is reading this. I could imagine many reasons for his closing blog posts to comments, and I think it can be a bit mean-spirited to speculate publicly about what his actual conscious or unconscious reasons might be.

  38. empty, it is possible and zumutbar to mourn while retaining one’s bristliness. I’ve done this often. Jes’ sayin’.

  39. narrowmargin says:

    A friend of mine is studying classics at Cornell. He says that “sine qua non” is pronounced thus:
    SINay-kwa-nohn

  40. Stew, it’s impossible to get anchovies in any form in Norway that aren’t flavored with some peculiar spice or other. This makes them virtually inedible, so I can’t use them in a salade Niçoise, or in anything else. I miss anchovy paste much more than I miss Marmite. If you email me your address I can send you some from England next week.

  41. You da man, Crown, thankx ! What is it with these northern European countres, that they can’t get their anchoas together ? We have Heringsalat, Hering in Sahnesoße mit Bratkartoffeln, even the lowly Bismarckheringbrötchen, fresh Anchovis = Sardellen and those in overbrined expensive little plastic phials – but no anchovy paste for the masses. The expensive stuff is here.

  42. Just noticed something: formally, that should be Heringssalat, but round here in Cologne people just say Heringsalat. It’s not important.

  43. dearieme says:
  44. Though he once called me a Kantian guidance counselor, I agree with the praise of Geoff Pullum above. It was evident to me at least that “comments qua comments” was a joke.
    Let’s not forget that it wasn’t so very long ago that comments were closed on all Language Log posts, with the rarest of individual exceptions. Opening or closing comments is a choice made by each individual poster, and indeed about each individual post. Mark Liberman has made references to the heavy work of pruning unwanted comments there: the site is much more visible, in a certain sense, than LH, and it apparently draws far more unpleasant people than our community here.

  45. Christ, AJP, CNN is reporting on the bomb blast and shooting attack in Norway about 2 hours ago. You guys OK ?

  46. Henry Honken says:

    What strikes me most about the comments to this topic is how many of them sneer at the use of qua and pace rather in the manner of the language pundits this blog is often sarcastic about (and with good reason). No one has to use either word, but it’s pointless to deride them as “pretentious latinisms” since they’re both English words in good standing.
    Since I don’t want to join the language pundit camp myself, I won’t claim my own pronunciation is the only right one, but I have to admit pronouncing pace as pay-see strikes me as hilariously funny. It’s like saying “pretentious latinisms’ are all right provided they are brutally anglicized. My own pronunciation is pahchay, probably because I thought it was borrowed from Italian when I first encountered it.

  47. What strikes me most about the comments to this topic is how many of them sneer at the use of qua and pace rather in the manner of the language pundits this blog is often sarcastic about
    You seem to be mistaking my tone; “slightly obnoxious Latinism” was said in a spirit of affectionate raillery (much as I call my cat Pushkin obnoxious from time to time), which shouldn’t be surprising, since I use all these terms myself. And I don’t think any of the commenters in the thread are sneering; after all, they’re giving their own pronunciations, which rather implies they, like you and me, think the terms are English words in good standing.
    I have to admit pronouncing pace as pay-see strikes me as hilariously funny.
    You may not be aware of this, but that is the traditional pronunciation; I didn’t make it up. When I first heard someone say PAH-chay, it struck me as buffoonishly ignorant, but that was many years ago, before age and descriptivism mellowed me.

  48. What strikes me most about the comments to this topic is how many of them sneer at the use of qua and pace rather in the manner of the language pundits this blog is often sarcastic about (and with good reason)
    I myself don’t give a flea’s wee about the pronunciation issues with “qua”. Actually it’s the mereological cockup in the expression “X qua Y” that irks me, depending on the choice of X and Y. That’s not the fault of “qua”.
    Pullum himself wrote something that is one of the rare examples of “qua” making sense: “Qua mushroom risotto it would not have ranked highly, but qua olive oil risotto it wasn’t too bad”.
    As to the rest: a cat may sneer at a catechist.

  49. One of the joys of descriptivism is that, in exercising it, one can describe prescriptivist utterances at great length, and enjoy descriptive laughter at their expense. Prescriptivists, in contrast, don’t get many laughs. They also can’t give any account of descriptivists, but can only reject them.

  50. Thanks Grumbleguts, we’re fine. The head of the news dept at the national broadcasting is saying this is the most significant event in Norwegian history since WW2. I think he should get out more.

  51. I’m very glad to hear that, AJP. (About being fine, not about the head of the news dept.)

  52. Picky, by pawky do you mean ‘artfully shrewd’, or are the dictionaries obsolete on this word?
    But this was a man of counsel,
    This was a man of a score,
    There dwelt no pawkier Stewart
    In Appin or Mamore.
    He looked on the blowing mist,
    He looked on the awful dead,
    And there came a smile on his face
    And there slipped a thought in his head.
         —R.L.S., “Ticonderoga”

  53. A reporter on CNN said the following, more or less: “Prime Minister Stoltenberg appeared with his [some cabinet member] before the press to comment on the disaster. In a typically Scandinavian manner, Stoltenberg started by saying that this was a difficult time for Norway, but that the country would get over it in by democratic means”. Crown, do you have an idea what that last sentence is supposed to refer to ?

  54. Stu, even if he were not in mourning I would still be able to imagine many reasons for his closing blog posts to comments, and I would still find it a bit mean-spirited to speculate publicly about what his actual conscious or unconscious reasons might be.

  55. Bathrobe says:

    a slight modification to a thing or a slightly innovative/inventive method of doing something that solves a problem that’s not really that huge
    I’ve always thought of it as involving not just tweaking but a certain thought or effort to come up with a solution.

  56. J.W. Brewer says:

    Hat, how do you pronounce “dona nobis pacem”? The way it’s standardly chanted/sung (which reflects Latin as an until-recently-living language), or in the conjectural reconstruction of classical pronunciation invented by 20th century Latin teachers?
    Although the announced-at-the-time occasion for Prof. Pullum’s switch to a no-comments policy was his 1000th post, in hindsight that milestone seems to have occurred quite close in time to his late wife’s cancer diagnosis (assuming Arnold Zwicky’s blogpost was accurate as to the timing of the latter). Perhaps a coincidence; perhaps not. In the last private email exchange I had w/ Prof. Pullum about a year ago, he was hilariously vituperative (about something I knew he would find infuriating), but alas before he could convert the substance of those vituperative emails into a proper LL post, Prof. Liberman (at some ridiculously early hour of the morning his local time) had preempted him with a more measured-sounding post on the same underlying story (someone in the news saying something breathtakingly stupid about language). Not, I should add, that Liberman wasn’t totally making fun of the buffoon in question, but with more of a deadpan style.

  57. dona nobis pacem
    How does the Anglicized-Latinist say that?

  58. Two minds with more or less a single question. But I was supposing that the tradition that says PAY-see would not say PAH-chem. And I was even going to guess that those of us who say PAH-chay may be influenced less by Italian than by how we have heard “dona nobis pacem” pronounced.

  59. I put “qua X” in the same family as “per se”, “as such”, and “in and of itself”. The latter expressions often seem to serve no purpose beyond hedging, stalling, or dressing up (not that these aren’t valid purposes). And “qua” is even dressier and (because you get to give it an object, too) more fun to play with.

  60. Bathrobe: I’ve always thought of it as involving not just tweaking but a certain thought or effort to come up with a solution.
    In the IT trade, “tweaking” often requires a certain thought or effort to improve the situation. Even that apparently random tweaking-the-dress-here-and-there that you see a mother doing for her daughter probably involves some thought, if the truth were known.

  61. The events in Norway were it seems more dreadful even than we had imagined.

  62. John: yes, I know the dictionaries say “artfully shrewd”, and I was looking for a polite term to use (and I expect the fact that “pawky” is Scots seemed appropriate) but in my experience the word, in use, has a slightly less positive aspect. My ODE adds the word “sardonic” to its definition, and that seems right to me.

  63. pronouncing pace as pay-see…
    You may not be aware of this, but that is the traditional pronunciation

    I’ve believed this since I heard you say it a year or so ago, but to what time does that “traditional” refer? I was taught that there were no soft c’s spoken in the Republic, that e.g. “Cicero” would have been pronounced KIH-keh-roh.

  64. Grumbly Stu and Bathrobe: It’s a bit more than just tweaking, and Bathrobe’s right in that the emphasis leans towards the actual cogitation required to come up with the modification (“innovative modification” is one way I handle it in patents).
    As a sampling of the lexical breadth and stretch, here are a few examples from my dictionaries: “use one’s brain,” “devise,” “do all kinds of things” (iroiro kufuu suru), “devise; contrive; plan; design; invent,” “contrive ways to” (houhou o kufuu suru), “scheme,” “ingenuity,” “artifice,” “twist, “tweak,” “consideration,” and so on and so forth.
    Anyway, it turns out this Norwegian thing has been quite horrific. I hope any regular posters and their families/friends are alright.

  65. to what time does that “traditional” refer?
    He’s not talking about ancient Roman tradition; he’s talking about the way Latin has long been pronounced in England among the learnèd. Or is it learnéd?

  66. Hat, how do you pronounce “dona nobis pacem”? The way it’s standardly chanted/sung (which reflects Latin as an until-recently-living language), or in the conjectural reconstruction of classical pronunciation invented by 20th century Latin teachers?
    The former. In my mind, “dona nobis pacem” has no connection with pace other than etymological coincidence; they are from utterly different traditions and there’s no reason why they should be pronounced the same way, any more than you would pronounce skordalia the same way you’d pronounce Vidalia. (I say DOH-nah NOH-bis PAH-chem, because that’s the way we sang it in the Occidental College Choir.)
    to what time does that “traditional” refer? ?
    Basically, the nineteenth century in England.

  67. J.W. Brewer says:

    I suppose in addition to the dona nobis pacem analogy, the pah-chay version seems intuitive to me because it is parallel to, e.g., the U.S legal-jargon pronunciation of “vice” in fixed-idiom globs of Latin like “pro hac vice.” We pronounce it “vee-chay” rather than as homophonous with “vise.” (The pronunciation Magistra would have insisted on back when I was in high school, which I guess would have bee “wee-keh,” is a non-starter.) I would have assumed that U.S. legal-jargon usage tracked pre-20th-century learned-Englishman usage pretty well, but maybe I’m wrong about that, or over generalizing as to final-syllable -ce.

  68. Yes, you’ll recall that Julius Caesar set the Ancient Britons the sentence, Veni, Vidi, Vici, “which the Romans, who were all very well educated, construed correctly. The Britons, however, who of course still used the old pronunciation, understanding him to have called them ‘Weeny, Weedy and Weaky’, lost heart and gave up the struggle, thinking that he had already divided them All into Three Parts.”

  69. Local pronunciation of New Latin, chart showing the different variations in European countries.
    In “historically informed” (i.e. period instrument) performances of classical music, conductors often take these regional variations into account. For instance, I have a recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (by Harnoncourt, I think) where the “pacem” in “Dona nobis pacem” is sung “pah-tsem”, as in German.

  70. pronounce skordalia the same way you’d pronounce Vidalia
    Hang on a sec. Plenty of Americans do /deɪljə/ for both, following exactly the principle at the head of this post. Emeril (link has timestamp, but if you get an ad it’s at 0:31) gives a generic Mediterranean flourish to the first syllable, but then falls back to GenAm, so I’m gonna stick to “the same.”
    Is skordalia not an English word for you yet?
    No one pretends to be from Georgia and shifts the diphthongs and loses the /l/ when talking about onions, right?

  71. cavorting says:

    Regarding ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation (and sung Latin), standardisation of the Italianate Latin pronunciation was formalised by a papal letter by Pius X in 1903. Obviously Roman pronunciation has always had significant weight, being the centre of bureaucracy and education. Regional Latin pronunciations are still prominent in modern sung performances (not only historical re-enactments, but obviously even more so there) in France and Germany. So “the way it’s standardly chanted/sung” does not really “reflect Latin as an until recently still living language”, but is a very recent phenomenon. English references to canticles in vernacular speech follow English Latin pronunciations (Maeg and Nahnk rather than Mahg and Noonk for the evening canticles, Tee Dee-uhm rather than Teh Deh-oom for the morning one), which I always found odd, when the Italian was used invariably when singing…

  72. I would have assumed that U.S. legal-jargon usage tracked pre-20th-century learned-Englishman usage pretty well, but maybe I’m wrong about that, or over generalizing as to final-syllable -ce.
    It certainly doesn’t, if you pronounce vice “vee-chay”; the traditional English pronunciation was “vye-see” (parallel to pace “pay-see”). The traditional English way was to pronounce Latin exactly as if it were English, but with no silent letters; thus “vye” as in vine, “see” as in cedar.
    Hang on a sec. Plenty of Americans do /deɪljə/ for both, following exactly the principle at the head of this post.
    Well, shut mah mouth! See, this is the kind of thing I learn by having a comment section. I lived for a couple of decades in Astoria, where even the non-Greeks say skor-dha-LYAH (or an approximation thereof); it never entered my head that people talked about the delicious garlicky stuff in places where there weren’t enough Greeks to influence their pronunciation.

  73. And though it probably doesn’t need saying, I fully support people’s right to say skordalia however they’re accustomed to saying it. My skor-dha-LYAH is no more intended to be normative than my PAY-see.

  74. David Marjanović says:

    Regional Latin pronunciations are still prominent in modern sung performances (not only historical re-enactments, but obviously even more so there) in France and Germany.

    And not just in sung performances. I provided a case in point 3/4 down this page.

  75. Z. D. Smith says:

    Though I will retain my Latin class learned ‘[rhotic schwa]ps’ for ‘urps’, in most other cases I was born a middle class stickler and converted to Anglicization late in life. I take Hat as my patron saint in this arena. Pater noster, dona nobis the gnosis, the holy lineage of unaffected pronunciations! And where is Calais, anyway? Does it still exist, and should it be Callis or Cally?

  76. Of course Calais still exists. It’s in Vermont, has about 1500 people, and it’s pronounced “callus” (or “callous”, take your pick). This was the historic pronunciation of the English city on the coast of France, too.

  77. David Marjanović says:

    This was the historic pronunciation of the English city on the coast of France, too.

    For people like those from Missoura who have merged unstressed /ɪ/ into /ə/.
    Has belonged to France ever since the end of the 100-Years War. On the French side of the narrowest part of the Channel, département Pas-de-Calais, opposite Dover and Folkestone.

  78. Has belonged to France ever since the end of the 100-Years War.
    No, it was only taken by the French in 1558, during the reign of the tyrannical English queen Broody Mary. She never got over it. As 1066 and All That reliably informs us:
    “Shortly after this the cruel Queen died and a postmortem examination revealed the word ‘callous’ engraved on her heart.”
    I know some people who live in Calais. Apparently it’s still “Anglo” in many ways, e.g. they eat Christmas pudding.

  79. Bitten again by the weak vowel merger, which is so weak I don’t even know I have it most of the time. “The men of Carn Dûm came on us at night, and we were worsted. Ah! the spear in my heart!”

  80. Though I don’t say “Missouri” with schwa, because for me happY-tensing bleeds the weak vowel merger, so it ends in [i] rather than /ɪ/ (default) or /ə/ (happY-tensing counterbleeds the w.v.m.)

  81. Damn. Now I don’t know if I have it. either. Can a person just sometimes have it?
    Also, my “Missouri” ends with neither /I/ or /ə/, but /i/. Is it possible that most outsiders say /i/, most natives say /I/, and people with the merger hear that as /ə/?

  82. Mine too, Empty; that is what I was saying in an overly technical way.
    Historic [ɪ] in my version of English has become /i/ finally, [ə] elsewhere. The former change was obvious: I was very struck in 1975 by Jimmy Carter’s pronunciation of his own name as [dʒɪmɪ], with the same vowel in both syllables. But making sure I had the latter change took a lot of introspection and self-checking. A good test case is chicken, with historic [ɪ] that is not supported by the spelling.
    As for Missouri, I believe that the [ə] pronunciation is now stigmatized as rural within the state, and the final vowel is generally [i] except among older people who have [ɪ] in all such words.

  83. That is, historic unstressed [ɪ]. The stressed vowel has not changed.

  84. Treesong says:

    I say kwah. I have the western PA merger of ‘cot’ and ‘caught’ but use the former in some foreignish words like ‘qua’. And maybe ‘quasi’, though I think I’d ordinarily say ‘quozzy’. And in some onomatopoeia, so ‘law’ and ‘blah’ don’t rhyme for me. I also say ‘PAHkay’ and have never tried to break myself of the Latinesque spelling pronunciation ‘pwer-ul’ for ‘puerile’.
    If you were to play Lucky in Waiting for Godot, how would you pronounce ‘Quaquaquaquaqua’?

  85. With KWAH.

  86. the country would get over it in by democratic means

    Belatedly I think this means that Norway would not find it necessary to impose a de facto dictatorship to deal with the crisis. After 9/11, this idea is no longer a joke (and it has a long history: the original dictators in Rome were appointed for a six-month term, based on an enabling act of the Senate “that the consuls should see to it that the State take no harm”).

  87. I think the Romans were onto a good thing with the dictators, though giving them a carte blanche to execute anybody they had grudge against might not fly as well today.

    On qua — in modern Danish it has somehow mutated to mean ‘because/by virtue/by means of’. I admit to having to grit my teeth to keep my hidden peever silent when I hear or see that. The original sense is then usually supplied by som værende, which is a clumsy calque of English ‘as being’ and not really acceptable in my grammar.

  88. January First-of-May says:

    Prof Pullum used always to have his posts open to comments, but in December, after his one thousandth post on Language Log, in many of which he had experienced what he felt were very annoying comments, he paused posting to consider whether he wanted to continue. About a month later he started posting again, but from that point on he has had comments off.

    That explains it, thanks!

    Ironically enough, in 2004, Pullum was about the only LLog author who did open his posts to comments; almost everyone else didn’t. I found it a funny reversal of the current situation.
    (There was, incidentally, a recent Pullum post that was, in fact, open to comments; I forgot which one it was, however.)

    (On “qua” – I’m pretty sure I never actually use the word as such, but my mental pronunciation is “kwah”.
    “Pace” as the Latinate word is “pah-seh” or maybe “pah-tseh”, more through “requestas requietas requiescat in…” than anything else; and “vice” is “vise” in “secret vice”, “vye-seh” in “vice versa”, and “vih-tseh” in “vice president”.)

  89. Trond Engen says:

    the country would get over it in by democratic means

    Judging by the time stamp of Stu’s comment, I think this must be from the first press conference, held by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice late at night 22 July. I don’t find the complete original text in transcription, and I won’t listen through the whole speech, but it seems that it ended with the words

    Vi må aldri slutte å stå opp for våre verdier. Vi må vise at vårt åpne samfunn består også denne prøven. At svaret på vold er enda mer demokrati. Enda mer humanitet. Men aldri naivitet. Det skylder vi ofrene og deres pårørende.

    blockquoteWe must never cease to stand up for our values. We must show that our open society can pass also this test. That the answer to violence is even more democracy. Even more humanitarianism. But never naivety. That is our duty to the victims and their families.

    The Prime Minister and other officials expressed this again and again in the days and weeks after the attack:

    I see I didn’t take part in the original discussion. I was out of the country at the time, staying in Conway in.North Wales with my family July 22 was our last day there before going to London. I think we had climbed the local hilltop in the afternoon, since it was our last chance to do it, and when we came back down we went out to eat. Then we packed and went to bed since we had tickets for an early morning train. We were woken up very early by a phone call from my mother-in-law. She told that there had been a terrorist attack, first in Oslo and then at Utøya, and that my wife’s cousin’s son had been killed. Gradually during the day we got the full story — from the news ticker on the train, from nice people asking if we were Norwegian and wanting to express their sympathy, and finally from BBC in the hotel lobby in London.

  90. David Marjanović says:

    I know some people who live in Calais. Apparently it’s still “Anglo” in many ways, e.g. they eat Christmas pudding.

    …what the actual…

  91. “vih-tseh” in “vice president” — are you sure? [ˌvaɪs-] with secondary stress seems more likely.

    Reminds me of when I had DSF (Deutsches Sportfernsehen) on cable, it took me many repetitions before I figured out what a [ˈfit͜səvɛltmaɪʃtɐ] was. (Spoiler: World number two = Viceweltmeister. Totally regular pronunciation for a Latinate loan, I guess, but quite a puzzle when German is your third language).

  92. David Marjanović says:

    /v/~/f/ for v in loanwords varies more or less regionally (more /f/ in the south), and with age (the mid-20C comedian Karl Valentin insisted on his /f/, implying that many people pronounced him with /v/ as I would; my grandma’s late friend pronounced my name with /f/, nobody else does), and separately for each word (I’ve never heard Eva with /v/ at all).

    /ʃt/ inside a phonological word is a southwestern feature (Alemannic and Tyrolean).

    Also, I think I’ve only seen Vize- with z. We don’t like c anymore.

  93. Vize- with z — brain esplode. Logical, but so unlike Danish. (For a linguistically aware native speaker of Danish, German is within that treacherous distance where you may _think_ that you’ve penetrated the surface differences and can just work the rest by analogy. That works with Swedish, to the degree that you are at least understood, but clearly not with German).

    Also preferring Z over C has always made me wonder about the mental well-foundedness of Germans in general. C is clearly the prettier letter.

  94. January First-of-May says:

    are you sure? [ˌvaɪs-] with secondary stress seems more likely

    Heavy influence from my native Russian.
    I think I’ve already mentioned (in some other LH thread) that a lot of the time soft c ends up as [t͜s] in my English, due to the sheer amount of Russian cognates with ц (in some contexts I’ve actually internally regularized it to the point where it appears in words like scent and decent that don’t actually have a Russian equivalent).

    In this case, vice versa, without intervening Russian, is [ˌvaɪsə-] (as expected of English Latinate), while vice president, where a Russian equivalent exists and has ц, is [ˌvit͜sə-] (give or take some vowel details, on both sides). But it can also be the former – it’s normalizing somewhat irregularly.
    Single-syllable [ˌvaɪs-] is left for vice grip and similar.

  95. minus273 says:

    Lars: In this case, we do have a merely “surface difference [for which we] can just work the rest by analogy”. For example, central is zentral; cyklus is Zyklus. What can you expect?

  96. In German, c other than in ch and ck positively shrieks “Alien!” It’s quite natural to change them all to z.

  97. @January First-of-May: there was an extended discussion of GKP’s comment policies on this thread, as well as some other places. It’s one of those topics that seems to crop up regularly at the Hattery.

  98. David Marjanović says:

    German is within that treacherous distance where you may _think_ that you’ve penetrated the surface differences and can just work the rest by analogy

    Ah yes. That’s what Dutch feels like. We think we can read it aloud, and then our expectations are shattered one by one…

  99. What can you expect? But then I’d have to think, wouldn’t I? Reading Z as /t͜s/ is of course the only option, but when speaking German the thinking is more “cyklon has a C in Danish so I take a chance and pronounce it with /t͜s/”. If I was writing German even occasionally I’d probably have internalized the Z by now.

    Dutch: For a Dane that’s at the ‘guessable’ level, and all those double vowels make it look so different that there are no native assumptions to go on when trying to read aloud (other than ‘continental letter values,’ which is so obviously not sufficient). Personally I’ve learned a good bit about Dutch starting when I was about 40, and can do a passable gracht when in Amsterdam, but it’s a set of rules that I have to actively remember and process.

    I imagine that Danish must be that way or worse for any West Germanic speaker.

  100. Don’t get us started on Danish.

  101. Danish is the Portuguese of Germanic.

  102. It’s on purpose, you know.

  103. Trond Engen says:

    Lars: Dutch: For a Dane that’s at the ‘guessable’ level

    As it happens I just got a text message from a Dutch friend of my son’s, meant for his brother. I could read it. All eleven words of it. The most difficult one was bijl, which I took from context but might have guessed from cognates anyway.

  104. January First-of-May says:

    German is within that treacherous distance where you may _think_ that you’ve penetrated the surface differences and can just work the rest by analogy.

    Earlier this hour, I had the misfortune of reading a text in Serbian and having to figure out some very specific details… I needed to know whether one particular Yugoslavian football match from 1965 was earlier than another, and this text was the only reference I could find (sufficiently quickly) to the date of one of those matches at all – and said reference appeared rather cryptic (of the type intended to be read by local contemporaries, not by random Russians from half a century later).

    It turned out (after a particularly careful look) that the reference also mentioned the match having happened on the same day as a distantly related match in France, whose date I already knew, and it fit the other hints (and ultimately the order of the two matches turned out to be the one that I hoped for, but didn’t expect).

    But I wasn’t confident enough in my reading of the Serbian text anyway.

  105. David Marjanović says:

    I imagine that Danish must be that way or worse for any West Germanic speaker.

    Way worse. Reading is hard because there aren’t that many cognates and there’s all this unexpected lenition (though at least it’s regular, apparently). Lining it up with the spoken language…

  106. The strange thing is that for a Dane, German seems to be chock full of cognates. Especially the content words, so once you’re familiar enough with the function words to focus on meaning, a few dictionary lookups go a long way. (There are shared loans from English, French, and Latin, and loans and calques from Middle German (mostly Low) into Danish, layered over the separately inherited words from Common Germanic).

    Perhaps the cognates are better hidden in the other direction, or less used.

  107. In my experience (a couple of days in Kopenhagen), reading Danish signage is not much of a problem if you know German and English. But reading books, newspapers, and even instructions is difficult – the basic lexicon is too different and the etymological links are too obscure. I understand maybe one word in three or four, which is sufficient to get a general idea of what a text is about, but not enough to really understand what it says. Dutch is much more similar to German and much easier to read for a German speaker than Danish.

  108. David Marjanović says:

    Perhaps the cognates are better hidden in the other direction, or less used.

    One hiding factor is the Norse denasalization. It’s easy to figure out from context that i corresponds to German in, but there are lots of words where that’s not obvious, including a heap of false friends, I think.

    Another is the lenition I alluded to, which often (always?) happened to the same consonants that underwent the High German consonant shift. To pick an irrelevant example that I actually understand, the cognate of køb- in København is kauf-: first I need to reverse-engineer the b to p (Kopenhagen as mentioned), then send this p through the HGCS and see if I recognize the outcome. That takes a while. 🙂

    Reading Dutch – if you know German and English and the HGCS, you can triangulate almost everything except the slightly different sample of French words, and I know French…

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