Livery.

I was discussing the pronunciation of livery with a friend (who thought it had a long i, as in alive, having only seen it written) and I thought I’d check the etymology in case it might help, which it does. OED (updated September 2009):

Etymology: < Anglo-Norman leveré, liveré, livereye, livré, lyveré, lyveree, lyvereye, Anglo-Norman and Middle French liveree, livree, Middle French livrée (French livrée) allowance or ration of food (late 12th cent. in Anglo-Norman), delivery, act of handing over (1283 or earlier in Anglo-Norman in general sense; second half of the 14th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman in spec. use with reference to the legal delivery of real property into a person’s possession, in faire liveré de), distinctive dress or uniform worn by an official, retainer, or servant (and given to him or her by the employer) (c1290 in Old French; now historical), liveried retainers collectively (1354; rare before late 17th cent.; now historical), assignment (14th cent. or earlier in Anglo-Norman), disbursement (1355 or earlier in Anglo-Norman), lodging, quarters of an army (a1400 or earlier), surrender (1438 in an apparently isolated attestation), distinctive guise or appearance of a thing (although this is apparently first attested later: c1450 with reference to the distinctive colours of an object; a1675 in more general sense), company, party (c1460 (in the passage translated in quot. 1477 at sense 12a) or earlier), stipendiary allowance granted to a canon (1549), in Anglo-Norman also denoting a City of London company (1386 or earlier), use as noun of feminine past participle of liverer, livrer liver v. (compare -y suffix5). Compare post-classical Latin liberata allowance, payment, provision (of food, clothing, etc.) to retainers or servants (frequently from 12th cent. in British sources), badge, uniform (frequently from late 14th cent. in British sources), lodging, quartering (14th cent.), allowance of provender for horses (15th cent. in a British source as liberatum), academic stipend (15th cent. in British sources), and also Spanish librea (end of the 15th cent.), Italian livrea (1424), Middle Dutch livereye, livreye, levereye (Dutch livrei), Middle Low German (rare) lēverīe, liberīe, German Livree (c1600; earlier as †liebrey, †liberey, etc. (15th cent.)), all earliest in sense 11b, all < French.
[…]

I. Senses relating to delivering or handing over.
1. The action or an act of handing over or conveying to another; the release of a person from imprisonment, etc.; (also) the delivery of goods (money, a writ, etc.). Obsolete.
[…]
II. Senses relating to the provision of food, etc.
5. a. The food, provisions, or clothing dispensed to or supplied for retainers, servants, or others; an allowance or ration of food served out. Now historical.
[…]
III. Senses relating to clothing or other uniform which serves as a distinguishing characteristic.
10. Something assumed or bestowed as a distinguishing feature; a characteristic garb or covering; a distinctive guise, marking, or outward appearance.
This sense should probably be regarded as a figurative development of sense 11, though it is recorded earlier.
[…]
11. a. The distinctive dress worn by the liverymen of a Guild or City of London livery company (see Compounds 2); (also) an item of this dress.
[…]
b. More generally: the distinctive dress or uniform provided for and worn by an official, retainer, or employee (in early use esp. a single item such as a collar, hood, or gown, but more generally a suit of clothes or uniform); spec. the characteristic uniform or insignia worn by a household’s retainers or servants (in later use largely restricted to footmen and other manservants), typically distinguished by colour and design; the dress, uniform, or insignia (e.g. king’s livery, riding livery), by which a family, etc., may be identified. Also as a count noun: a set of such clothes, a uniform. Cf. colour n.1 19a. Now chiefly historical.

So you can remember the pronunciation by keeping in mind that it’s just delivery without the prefix.

Comments

  1. Did you see this, about a novel that has some sort of made-up norman vs. anglo-saxon dialect thing going on?

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/01/16/historical-fiction-love-plague/

  2. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard “livery stable” in countless old Westerns.

    “Livery” survives in the airline industry, where it refers to the distinctive decoration of airplanes; Google “aircraft livery” for details.

  3. Richard Hershberger says:

    Speaking of mispronunciations, my secret vice is watching old episodes of What’s My Line on YouTube. Bennett Cerf was a regular panelist for most of its run. He was erudite and clearly widely read, and would occasionally come out with some astonishing pronunciations. One that comes to mind is when he said “demise” as if it rhymed with “chemise.” Another is when the contestant was a football player on the Baltimore Colts. In the chitchat period after they had identified the player, Cerf mentioned Johnny Unitas, saying the last name as if it were the Latin word.

    On the one hand, all us readers have experienced the phenomenon. We read a word, forming a pronunciation in our heads. Much later we use the word in conversation, with our mental pronunciation bringing joy and laughter to our interlocutors. So I sympathize. But “demise” seems too common a word for this, and I would have thought that someone who knew who was the quarterback of the Colts would also have heard the name used in conversation.

  4. PlasticPaddy says:

    @RH
    Re demise, pronunciation for these borrowings seem to depend on what vowel the French word had at the time of borrowing. Compare compromise and promise. Re Unitas, it is possible he was being witty (I remember being surprised that Sylvester Stallone was chosen to play the eponymous composer Aaron in the biopic “Copland”).

  5. John Cowan says:

    The livery and maintenance period in Europe and especially England was the 14-15C, when lords who were short of land (and therefore serfs) but had plenty of cash for one reason or another could hire free retainers, sometimes as mercenaries, sometimes as lobbyists, sometimes a mixture. Livery was the provision of clothes marked with the lord’s badge, but it’s unclear if maintenance was primarily the provision of money for food and other essentials, or whether it had the legal sense of paying the costs of a defendant in a lawsuite with which the payer was otherwise unconnected (it may of coure have been both). Kings perceived l & m as a threat to their crowns, since lords could hire as many retainers as they could afford and could fire them for insubordination, incompetence, sickness, and so on, just like modern employees.

    That review really makes me want to read To Calais, In Ordinary Time, but it’s about three times what I’m willing to pay these days. I may yet bite the bullet. The reference in the review to a character who is unsure if he is serf or free reflected a general legal uncertainty: many were the free men who held land by villein (at-will, customary) tenure, and it was not uncommon after a generation or two for the holders to be degraded to villeins, unless they could prove that they had consistently committed actions legally possible only to free men. At common law servile condition followed the father, and it was not rare for African or Native American slaves in England to sue their father/owners for freedom, and they generally won. To prevent this, all the colonies quickly imposed the Roman rule that servile condition followed the mother.

  6. The liver bird (long i) is the symbol of Liverpool (short i).

  7. “livery and maintenance” in Ireland was called “coign [or coyne] and livery” Although coign/coyne sounds like Irish cáin “tax”, I understand it is from coinmheadh “billeting”.

  8. PlasticPaddy says:

    @mollymooly
    https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_de_g%C3%AEte

    “Le droit de gîte est un droit du Roi de France ou du seigneur de se faire héberger avec sa suite par ses gens lorsqu’il se déplace dans son domaine. ”

    So “coyne and livery” is just the local name for a recognised feudal obligation.

  9. Do people have an opinion on how to pronounce the ‘i’ in “short-lived”?

  10. Just last night, as it happens, I was talking to my son about airplane “livery” (specifically in a discussion of how you get the industrial enamel off an airplane if you need to repaint it for a different carrier).

    Apart from that, I also associate livery with the phrase “livery and maintenance,” although it is interesting that the meaning of livery during the late Middle Ages would have probably encompassed both of what are now considered the livery and maintenance components of supplying a private army. In spite of this, however, the relevant senses of maintenance are all of the same fourteenth-century vintage as livery.

    According to the OED, there is also an expression “cap [also hat] of maintenance,” which I was not familiar with—and in which the OED admits the sense of maintenance is obscure.

  11. John Cowan says:

    Johnny Unitas, saying the last name as if it were the Latin word

    Meaning [ˈunitas] or ˈ[junɪtəs]? When I looked at the name just now (I hadn’t seen or heard it for years), I thought “I bet that’s Lithuanian.” And so it is, a respelling of Jonaitis.

    I like the idea that a cap of maintenance serves to keep or maintain the crown on your head. At any rate, the monarchs of the UK wear one at their coronations before they are physically crowned.

  12. Stu Clayton says:

    a cap of maintenance serves to keep or maintain the crown on your head.

    Somewhat like the function of a washer (to distribute load) or O-ring / packing joint (to seal). What do they if their head is stuck fast after two hours ?

  13. John Cowan says:

    Neither exactly, but a source of friction between slippery metal and slippery hair. The straps on the underside of a modern helmet partly serve the same function.

  14. how you get the industrial enamel off an airplane

    I believe you have to dunk the entire plane in an extremely large vat of paint stripper. Clean-up is a bear.

  15. Stu Clayton says:

    This is Stuck in a helmet. Here’s what to do when your crown is stuck.

  16. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard “livery stable” in countless old Westerns.

    I knew how to pronounce it; it was my friend who didn’t.

  17. Richard Hershberger says:

    @PlasticPaddy: “Re Unitas, it is possible he was being witty”

    I don’t think so. Cerf routinely telegraphed when he was being witty. This doesn’t have that feel to it at all. But judge for yourself. Raymond Berry, the player contestant, comes in at 18:33. Go to 22:54 to hear Cerf say “Unitas.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crM0bgJQHaU&list=PLqsaqh5sqUxo1jDn8kp_YxLansT5r69w4&index=45

  18. “For coronations lasting more than four hours, please consult your physician.”

  19. Speaking of uncommon usage – today the Impeachment Managers issued a “Replication to the Response to the Summons of President Donald J. Trump to the Articles of Impeachment”.

    Apparently “replication” means reply or rejoinder. Or did everyone here already know this?

  20. Brits, I believe, say GP and Amercs say doctor. But maybe it is physician in sone dominions

  21. This doesn’t have that feel to it at all. But judge for yourself.

    I agree, and I agree that you’d think someone who knew who was the quarterback of the Colts would also have heard the name used. I guess he watched games by himself (he did say he was the only publisher who would have known about the game), but wouldn’t he have heard announcers say it? Maybe he thought they were all wrong and he knew the correct version? Odd.

  22. Apparently “replication” means reply or rejoinder. Or did everyone here already know this?

    I did not know that. OED (updated December 2009):

    II. Senses relating to replying.
    4.a. The action or an act of replying, esp. in disagreement or defence; the giving of a rejoinder or retort; (also) argument, protest. Obsolete.
    […]
    b. An instance of this; a reply, a retort; an answer to or argument against a statement made by another. Now rare.
    […]
    5. a. Law (now historical). In traditional English pleadings: a claimant’s answer to a defendant’s plea (plea n. 4b). Cf. reply n. 2b.
    The traditional forms of pleading at common law (see note at surrejoinder n.) were effectively abolished in England and Wales by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998; see note at rejoinder n. 1.
    […]
    1911 Encycl. Brit. XXI. 833/2 Replication by the plaintiff to the plea. In this pleading the plaintiff usually took issue upon the statements in the defence.
    1961 L. F. Sturge Basic Rules Supreme Court xxiii. 62 The modern practice is to head the pleading ‘Reply and Defence to Counterclaim’ and to head each part respectively ‘Reply’ (meaning the equivalent of the common law replication) and ‘Defence to Counterclaim’.
    1995 Medievalia & Humanistica New Ser. No. 22. 132 (note) The stages in a complete initial pleading were: declaration (plaintiff), plea (defendant), replication (plaintiff), rejoinder (defendant), [etc.].

  23. Trond Engen says:

    Hat: Maybe he thought they were all wrong and he knew the correct version? Odd.

    Maybe he had used the jocular version so often — to himself or in private — that he forgot it was a joke when he suddenly had to say the name in public.

  24. Stu Clayton says:

    German die Replik “reply/rejoinder”, not to be confused with das Replikat “replicate/replication/copy” (untutored programmers have confused them in my presence). Although Duden claims Replik as a term of art in art means “copy”, as of a painting.

    The verb associated with Replikat is replizieren.

  25. I have only encountered “long-lived”, never “short-lived”; both require a short I. If you want a long I you should say “long-lifed”.

  26. Stu Clayton says:

    Further investigation reveals that an older legal sense of Replik was precisely that of “replication (plaintiff)” above, and Duplik was the “rejoinder (defendant)” ensuing, if any.

  27. Although Duden claims Replik as a term of art in art means “copy”, as of a painting.
    Here is an example for the word being used with that meaning. That’s actually the meaning I knew first, before I learnt that the word can also mean “response, reply”.

  28. Stu Clayton says:

    I learned it the other way around. The English for this Replik would be “replica”, plural “replicas”. The link header gives the impression that “Replica” is a second plural form of Replik in addition to Repliken !?

    Hmm, maybe those untutored programmers started life as art students before switching to the art of computer science, where copy-and-paste is deprecated.

  29. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    But a GP is only a kind of doctor. Someone advising you to consult your GP generally means either that you shouldn’t come running to them when you break your leg or shouldn’t go cluttering up A+E, not that you shouldn’t speak to some other kind of doctor if it’s more appropriate.

    Actually, ‘please consult your physician’ sounds a bit American to me, but it’s perfectly comprehensible.

  30. Of course, it’s comprehensible. But I think the joke was that it resembles a tag line on medication ads. I don’t know what they really say in Britannia or even if there are medication ads at all.

  31. David Eddyshaw says:

    In UK medicalese, physician is specifically a hospital specialist doctor who is not a surgeon of some sort (they have their own Royal Colleges of Physicians.) As the word is rarely used in everyday conversation in the UK now, this is in fact the usual UK meaning. Nobody would call a GP or an obstetrician or an ophthalmologist a physician in Real Life. (I did once have a patient who was an academic historian who – entirely correctly – described me as an “oculist.”)

    GPs are in many ways an oddity of the UK system and systems derived from it; whereas in France, if you thought you had a cardiac problem you would probably consult your friendly neighbourhood cardiologist, in the UK you would go to your GP, who might refer you on to a hospital-based cardiologist if s/he found you Worthy. Or frightening.

    It’s not legal to advertise prescription-only drugs directly to the general public in the UK, so the whole “ask your physician about …” thing is absent. The drug-pusher community has found other methods.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    Do people have an opinion on how to pronounce the ‘i’ in “short-lived”?

    …That’s just the verb live, so short…?

    I’ve often read it, though probably never heard it. It’s usually used metaphorically.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve always imagined GP to be the equivalent of praktischer Arzt/praktische Ärztin: a doctor familiar with all of medicine, but not a specialist of any branch, so that’s where you go if you have “some kinda stinging pain in my chest”, and they’ll refer you to a specialist when necessary.

    (This meaning of praktisch is unique. All the others map more or less to “practical”.)

  34. David Eddyshaw says:

    That’s basically correct, but for historical reasons GPs are proportionately much more numerous in the UK than similar practitioners elsewhere (or at least, they used to be, when there were any left.) This is tied up with the way the NHS functions, in which GPs limit demand on the more expensive hospital-based parts of the system.

    There are odd divergences in other respects too; whereas in Germany, for example, there are Augenärzte everywhere, they are mostly doing what our (non-medical, commercial) ophthalmic opticians do, and there is nothing really corresponding to that group in Germany. The number of UK ophthalmologists per capita is much less than in Germany (when our College was first created in 1988, there were less than a thousand Fellows altogether in the whole of the UK), but a typical UK ophthalmologist is much more high-powered than a typical German Augenarzt, and (for example) almost always performs cataract surgery, regardless of their actual subfield. To get higher surgical training in ophthalmology in Germany is quite difficult, and typical German ophthamologists are very inexperienced in UK terms (this was a big issue for Christoffelblindenmission in the days I worked for them, and a reason they were keen to recruit Brits.)

    In many respects the German system is in fact a lot more rational: you wouldn’t adopt the UK model if you were setting up a service de novo.

  35. Definitely short I in short-/long-lived, for me. But there’s logic to the long-I pronunciation, if you take it as a bahuvrihi formed from short/long life with voicing of the final F as in e.g. broad-leaved.

    What about livelong, though? OED gives only the (etymologically sensible) short-I pronunciation, but Google claims it’s short I in the States, long I in the UK. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard the word spoken.

  36. David Eddyshaw says:

    Shortlived has short I; never heard anything else from an L1 speaker. The long-I would indeed have been (much) more logical …

    I have livelong with the long I; never heard it any other way (though I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard an American say it.) I don’t think I’ve ever heard it outside the collocation livelong day.

  37. I’ve heard both ‘short-lived’ and ‘long-lived’, the first more frequently. (It typically occurs when speaking of reigns or governments that don’t last very long.) As others have noticed it is pronounced with a short ‘i’. If a foreign student pronounced it with a long ‘i’ I would correct them.

    One word that has come to my attention recently is ‘respite’. I originally pronounced it with a long ‘i’, then found out that it ‘should’ be pronounced with a short ‘i’, accent on the first syllable. Recently the word has been frequently used in connection with the Australian bushfires and is invariably pronounced with a long ‘i’. I’m not sure which syllable was stressed.

  38. I only never knew the short-i pronunciation of short-lived and long-lived, but I have encountered Americans who insist that only the long-i version is correct, for the reason TR gives. I haven’t been able to bring myself to change my native habit, though.

    “ask your physician”: Some advertising genius came up with the phrase “ask your doctor if boppolimolumimab is right for you,” which is now incorporated into all the high-production-value TV ads for prescription meds.

  39. David Marjanović says:

    livelong day

    😮
    den lieben langen Tag “all day long”

    …so, etymologically, that would probably be the short one.

  40. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’ve always said RESS-pit. This may be reinforced by the fact that the word does turn up fairly often in medical contexts; there are (or perhaps once were) a number of shibboleth-words where the “correct” pronunciation seems to be virtually confined to Doctorish, like verTYEgo, abDOUGHmen. and that old favourite discussed on LH elsewhere, TRAY.

    I was shocked to hear a trainee say conJUNCtiva just the other day. O tempora! O mores!

  41. @D.O.: The normal word in America is indeed doctor, and even when restricted to the medical profession, it is more general than G. P., because it includes specialists as well as general practitioners.* However, physician is a perfectly normal word for a medical doctor, and (because of its specificity) it comes up not infrequently in legal disclaimers, like my parody above. I doubt there is really any legal exposure from using a less unambiguous term than physician, though. Perhaps we could have: “Talk to your magus about whether Chantix is right for you.”

    * I chose practitioner as the word for a medical professional in some of my own writing, just to give it a bit of an unusual flavor.

    He padded out into the hallway to the call station, where a junior practitioner was tapping her stylus against a folded-up computing lamina. She unfolded the two-dimensional device as Yarec approached. Running a fingertip along the quartering creases, they melted away. The lamina automatically smoothed itself out and adjusted its texture for greater rigidity, quickly transmuting into a hard display panel. The practitioner held it up in her left hand while she scribbled the beginning of the patient’s name with the stylus, so it could call up his attending surgeon’s case notes.

  42. @David Hithersay: The stress pattern on abdomen was previously discussed here.

  43. “If you are using cocaine or heroin, talk to your neighborhood dealer about possible interactions.”

  44. Definitely short I in short-/long-lived, for me. But there’s logic to the long-I pronunciation, if you take it as a bahuvrihi formed from short/long life with voicing of the final F as in e.g. broad-leaved.

    And as a matter of fact there used to be a branch of peevery that insisted on the “logical” long-i version; back in my pre-Hat days, when I hadn’t learned that neither language nor people were logical and still had faith in the more respectable-sounding peevers, I said it that way for a while and even (oh, the shame) pressed that pronunciation on others, but that was long, long ago.

    What about livelong, though? OED gives only the (etymologically sensible) short-I pronunciation, but Google claims it’s short I in the States, long I in the UK. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard the word spoken.

    I have (in “all the livelong day”), and it’s short.

  45. I don’t know that I’ve heard it said, but it would be a rare American of my age that hadn’t heard livelong sung, shortly after working on the railroad.

  46. If we’re declaring open season on (American) medical (mis-)pronunciations …

    Where are mad-doctors supposed to put the stress in ‘psychopathy’ and other endings for the same root? I ask because there’s a you-tuber who might otherwise have quite useful things to say, but every time he pronounces “psych-Opathy” I want to scream. (“psych-Opathology” sounds just awful; can’t he shift the stress to the “path”? I scream equally at “kil-Ometer”. How can anybody sensible put the stress on a linking vowel?)

    Might “psych-Opathy” be a spelling pronunciation? The guy seems to be capable of reciting the DSM in his sleep; I suspect he has no inter-personal interactions; certainly he has no personality nor sense of humour/irony; seems eminently unqualified to speak on personality disorders. Dr Todd Grande: might be a made-up name; in my ever-so non-clinical judgment his youtube ubiquity on narcissism and related topics can only be explained by some sort of grandiose/Munchhausen disorder.

  47. John Cowan says:

    WhenIwerealad, GPs were all over the place in this country, but the name is no longer current. Nowadays in the U.S., if you suspect you are suffering from the common cold, the double scrud, shingles[*] or hypertrichosis, or if you simply “don’t feel good in the mornings” (all such matters account for 25% of all doctor visits), then you see a specialist in either family medicine or internal medicine[**]. (Of course Americans under 18 may see a pediatrician instead.) Jointly these specialists are known as primary care physicians or PCPs, and when you see a specialist of another sort, their forms ask you for the name of your PCP. Furthermore, depending on your insurance company and the plan you have, you may be required to get a written referral from the PCP to a specific kind of specialist.

    [*] Which I diagnosed myself by looking at the itchy and painful spot on Gale’s left side. I called our PCP, who of course thought I was hearing hoofbeats and expecting zebras. But she said “Bring her in”, and I was right and Gale got six weeks of lidocaine patches and general hell.

    [**] I think the rise of internist for specialist in internal medicine may be why intern has been phased out in favor of first-year resident, with all other residents’s year-ordinals being increased by 1.

    I trained myself to say short/long-lyved long ago, and I can’t rid myself of it, but of course I don’t push it on anyone. But it’s definitely “I’ve been workin on the railroad / All the livlong day”.

  48. there used to be a branch of peevery that insisted on the “logical” long-i version

    Seems to me there’s equal logic on both sides, though, since the short I is justified if you take the second member of the compound as a participle, as in well-read, widely-traveled and the like. (These compounds are weird in that the meaning of the participle is active rather than passive as it normally is — is this type productive at all or is it limited to set expressions?)

  49. Lars Mathiesen says:

    In Denmark, a praksis was real property, sort of a license plus office plus clinic assistant all bound up in a package, that a young general practicioner would buy off an older one who wanted to retire. Hence they were called praktiserende læger. Similar systems were in place for apothecaries and dentists, maybe oculists and other specialists as well.

    Sort of a remnant of the guild system, but I think praksisser were regulated by law and authorizations doled out at ministerial levels. I think all of that has been “marketized” now — though there is still a limit on how many “service provider numbers” for GPs the health care system will allocate in a given municipality.

    Also, GPs are now the slightly oxymoronic speciallæger i almen medicin — “specialists in general medicine”. But that is because “specialist” is a qualification that a dr.med. gains after a further internship at a hospital, and general practice has become one of the possible specializations. Speciallæge unqualified is still widely understood to be the oculist vel sim that your GP refers you to.

    I want to have General Specialist on my business card, but I don’t need business cards in my current job.

  50. I have only encountered “long-lived”, never “short-lived”
    wow, my introspection sucks.

  51. David Marjanović says:

    praksis

    G Praxis, plural Praxen, because of course it is.

  52. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Greek inflections are attested in Danish usage, but the latest in the dictionary is from 1939. (Plural praxes).

  53. you shouldn’t come running to them when you break your leg
    Running with a broken leg sounds like a painful thing to do 😉 (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

  54. “Might “psych-Opathy” be a spelling pronunciation?”

    It could have been influenced by “photography.”

  55. I still say “long-lived” with long I, but I’m 72 and from the distant hills.

    As for “livery,” my students make the same mistake. I don’t think old westerns appear on their media any more.

  56. every time he pronounces “psych-Opathy” I want to scream. ([…] I scream equally at “kil-Ometer”. How can anybody sensible put the stress on a linking vowel?)

    I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but those are the “correct” pronunciations according to the traditional rules of Greco-Latin Englishings. Linking vowel is irrelevant; the only question is whether the penultimate is long or short. “Kilometer” has antepenult stress because it’s based on μέτρον (short e); a traditional classicist would say “kilo-MEE-ter” should mean ‘a thousand mothers.’ Of course all of that is irrelevant to actual usage; I say “ki-LOM-eter” because that’s how Americans say it, not because of Greek vowel length, but it’s definitely not wrong by any standard.

    I have only encountered “long-lived”, never “short-lived”

    I have encountered and used both; I have no idea which, if either, is more common, but neither is ostentatiously so.

  57. “To gain a brief advantage you’ve contrived,
    But your proud triumph will not be long-lived”

    from Pirates of Penzance. Not that that proves anything at all given Gilbert’s notorious tendency to mispronounce things for the sake of a “contrived” rhyme…

  58. Honestly, however psychopathy is pronounced, I find it sounds wrong. If I had to read the word aloud, I would give it antepenultimate stress, but that doesn’t really sound any better than the alternative.

  59. I agree. Strange, that.

  60. PlasticPaddy says:

    Psychopathy does not just sound wrong, it is wrong☺ Would you say that pornography is wrong, sounds wrong or both? What I would say is that 4-syllable words with stress on syllables one and 3 sound peculiar, whereas those with stress on syllable 2 sound normal. Exquisitely is even more peculiar if you give it only the stress on syllable 1, although naturally sounds natural this way.

  61. Aside from sounding wrong, pornography at least brings enjoyment to people, but I can’t imagine how psychopathy benefits anyone (granted, it may be financially beneficial to psychiatrists).

  62. Eli Nelson says:

    Linking vowel is irrelevant; the only question is whether the penultimate is long or short.

    For nouns with the anglicized ending -y, I think the historical length of the vowel in the penultimate syllable is not relevant: the traditional stress pattern is just based on whether the syllable is open or closed. Monopoly and philanthropy come from μονοπώλιον and ϕιλανθρωπία with long ō, but everyone stresses their antepenultimate syllable.

    Vowel length traditionally was a criterion for stressing an open penultimate syllable in words with unanglicized endings (the abdomen type).

  63. however psychopathy is pronounced, I find it sounds wrong

    I feel the same about pedagogy.

    How can anybody sensible put the stress on a linking vowel?

    So do you say PSYCHology, GEometry, PHILosophy, and so on?

  64. Stu Clayton says:

    “Linking vowel” is a term of linguistic art. It implies nothing about stress patterns. In saying it’s not sensible to stress a linking vowel, you’re banking on a connotation of link, in some uses, as somethng of secondary importance, a “mere link”. So you think it doesn’t make sense to “stress” it – there’s another word with a different connotation wriggled in here by surreptition.

  65. Graham Asher says:

    @Mollymooly “I have only encountered “long-lived”, never “short-lived”; really? For a random example, try looking up ‘short-lived’ in combination with ‘Salo’ on Google:

    …Mussolini’s short lived fascist republic…
    …the short-lived “Italian Social Republic”…
    …short-lived republic of Salo…
    …the short-lived state set up by Mussolini…
    …a short-lived fascist puppet government…
    …short lived ‘Repubblica Sociale Italiana’ of Salò…
    …a short-lived republic Mussolini created…

    In fact, short-lived seems compulsory in that context. I have no great interest in or knowledge of that subject, by the way. It just shot into my mind in incredulity when you said you hadn’t come across ‘short-lived’.

  66. Stu Clayton says:

    Many alcoholics die because their livers were short-lived.

  67. Lars Mathiesen says:

    In languages like Danish and Swedish (and German perhaps) there are linking phonemes that are fossilized case endings — Danish has binde-e and binde-s from the dative and genetive singular — but these languages are very tolerant of consonant clusters and have kept their old lexical stress patterns, so the linking phonemes are never mandatory and never stressed (like the desinences of the initial elements never were).

    Greek (and Latin) I think were the opposite — if compounding would result in a disallowed cluster, a default epenthetic vowel appeared (-o- in Greek and -i- in Latin). Later reorganizations of the stress system then treated the new syllables just like the old, in effect their origin as epenthetic linking vowels was ignored.

  68. For nouns with the anglicized ending -y, I think the historical length of the vowel in the penultimate syllable is not relevant: the traditional stress pattern is just based on whether the syllable is open or closed.

    Good point — I oversimplified.

  69. David Marjanović says:

    How can anybody sensible put the stress on a linking vowel?

    Your stress instincts are amazingly Germanic for a native speaker of English. 🙂

    In German (though see below), the parts of compound nouns remain separate phonological words for as long as the component remains halfway recognizable as such; they all keep their own stress, and the primary stress of the whole compound is the ordinary stress of the first component.

    In native compounds in English, unstressed recognizable components can lose their identity as phonological words and undergo vowel reduction; this happens to -man and -land a lot.

    In Classical, compounds are phonologically single words. The stress patterns of the components are completely erased, and a new one assigned by a rule: stress on the 2nd-to-last syllable if it’s long, 3rd-to-last if the 2nd-to-last is short. (In Latin, this rule also applies to simple words. In Greek, it’s largely unpredictable where the stress on an indivisible word goes, except it has to be on one of the last three syllables.)

    There’s a widespread phenomenon in northern German where only the last four syllables seem to be stressable. I stress the five-syllable word Schönwetterwolken “fair-weather clouds” on the first syllable, as follows: Wetter and Wolken are both stressed on the first syllable; (Schön)(wetter) “fair weather” is stressed on the first component, i.e. the first syllable; ((Schön)(wetter))wolken is stressed on its first component, so still on the first syllable. But on German TV you can hear it stressed on the second syllable a lot, and likewise for a few more examples.

  70. In Classical, compounds are phonologically single words. The stress patterns of the components are completely erased, and a new one assigned by a rule: stress on the 2nd-to-last syllable if it’s long, 3rd-to-last if the 2nd-to-last is short.

    This isn’t a rule in Greek, only in Latin. Or are you saying it’s the rule in English?

  71. Your stress instincts are amazingly Germanic for a native speaker of English. 🙂

    I’m British (and NZ) English. Hat’s alleged rule seems to me bunkum made up by some American prescriptivist (Noah Webster?) to justify some dumb peevery. I observe others have objected to it. Clearly I’ve never internalised it, and I can instantly think of more exceptions than I can examples that follow it.

    It may be significant that my first KI-lometres were French. (Not kiloMEEters, no I’ve never heard anybody stress it like that.) Do Americans say “miLLI-meters”, “cenTI-meters”? It goes with KI-los, short for KI-logrammes.

    PSY-chopathy is lengthened from PSY-chopath is lengthened from PSY-cho, stress as per PSY-chic. I might say psychoME-tric (testing), but not psyCHO-metric.

    JO-metry has only three syllables anyway (same as JO-graphy). What are you even talking about?

    David M might have a point that I’m more aware of the Greek/Latin roots (and their contenful parts) than the average American. All I can say is Hat’s rule doesn’t apply on my side of the Atlantic, nor my side of the Pacific.

  72. John Cowan says:

    Ancient Greek stress can go on any of the last three morae[*], compound or not, and Modern stress falls on the corresponding vowel in both inherited words and cultismos, since vowel length has been lost and unstressed vowels in hiatus have become non-syllabic. Greek borrowings in Latin kept vowel length but reassigned stress by Latin rules: on the penult if it is long or closed, on the antepenult otherwise. English borrowings from either Greek or Latin (whether originally Greek or not) keep the stress but reassign vowel “length” (really quality) according to the rules of the English pronunciation of Latin, a specialized kind of spelling pronunciation.

    [*] That said, if you don’t know where the stress is on an Ancient Greek word, the safest assumption is that it is a barytone: that is, stressed on the antepenult vowel, or the initial vowel if the word is too short.

  73. Ancient Greek stress can go on any of the last three morae

    Last three syllables, but last four morae (the ἄνθρωπος type).

    JO-metry has only three syllables anyway (same as JO-graphy). What are you even talking about?

    I’d forgotten about that British pronunciation, but arguably that’s still a linking vowel. Anyway, what about psychology, photography, philosophy, etc.? Surely no one pronounces those with iniitial stress.

  74. kiloMEEters is the Russian standard stress pattern with kilOmeters a deprecated variant.

  75. David Marjanović says:

    This isn’t a rule in Greek, only in Latin. Or are you saying it’s the rule in English?

    What is the rule for Ancient Greek compounds, then?

    kiloMEEters is the Russian standard stress pattern

    Also the German one, straight from the original French. But Kilogramm (almost always abbreviated to Kilo) is stressed on the first syllable, likewise Milligramm.

    Zentimeter & Millimeter are (except contrastively) stressed on the 3rd syllable in Austria, like Kilometer, but on the 1st in much or all of Germany; I wonder if that’s connected to the phenomenon of only the last four syllables being stressable.

  76. In Swedish, kilometer is stressed on the me, and kilogram on the gram if you don’t say just kilo (in which case the ki is stressed).

  77. kiloMEEters is the Russian standard stress pattern

    Also the German one, straight from the original French.

    Hmm? “some languages, such as French and Mandarin, are sometimes analyzed as lacking lexical stress entirely.” sez wikipedia. I think I’m entitled to claim KI-lometers is following French pronunciation — that’s what I hear.

    Contra Hat’s alleged rule, I claim the following is liable to be correct as often (in the absence of actually knowing), and is certainly more likely to be understood (because stressing a linking vowel will obscure the stems that carry the meaning):

    There’s no 4-syllable words in the Anglo-Saxon half of English. So any word that long must be a compound of something classical/romance. Pick it apart at the seams; spot the meaningful parts; give them the syllable stress they usually carry (probably antepenult); be non-comittal as to the relative stress between the components.

  78. Hat’s alleged rule seems to me bunkum made up by some American prescriptivist (Noah Webster?) to justify some dumb peevery.

    It’s not my alleged rule; it is certainly bunkum, but it was presented as a rule by Fowler, among others. Brits were the original dumb peevers, you know; we were just being good colonials and following their lead.

  79. Sure. But the definition of language is that enormous set of dumb peeves invented by prescriptivists, each of which is individually useless and indefensible, yet which collectively provide order and memorability to the phonemes that carry meaning.

  80. David Marjanović says:

    Hmm? “some languages, such as French and Mandarin, are sometimes analyzed as lacking lexical stress entirely.” sez wikipedia.

    “Lexical stress” means “phonemic stress (on the word level)”. Indeed they don’t have that. But phonetically, French does consistently stress the last syllable before every pause, for which purpose -re and -le don’t count as syllables. That is quite noticeable, and has been respected in loans into German since MHG times.

    (Mandarin also has phonetic stress, as Victor Mair has been saying for a while. It determines, probably circularly to some degree, which tones surface and which don’t. Probably it depends on morphology in some vaguely Germanic-like way, but I haven’t tried to dig into that matter and, well, probably can’t.)

    I think I’m entitled to claim KI-lometers is following French pronunciation — that’s what I hear.

    There is a phenomenon (probably recent; my dad and m-l have complained about it) of French newsreaders not only stressing the last syllable before a pause, but additionally putting a high pitch on the first syllable after a pause. That sounds a lot like stress.

  81. What is the rule for Ancient Greek compounds, then?

    There isn’t a general rule — it depends on the type of compound.

    French does consistently stress the last syllable before every pause, for which purpose -re and -le don’t count as syllables

    Doesn’t that apply to all e-muets, not just those following a liquid?

    it is certainly bunkum, but it was presented as a rule by Fowler

    …who very sensibly argued against it.

    Pick it apart at the seams; spot the meaningful parts; give them the syllable stress they usually carry (probably antepenult)

    How is the stress going to be antepenult if the parts are disyllabic (or did you mean penultimate)? In any case, it’s a neat-looking rule, but since no one actually perpetrates such auditory atrocities as PSYCHoLOGy and PHILoSOPHy, I’d say it falls into the category of prescriptivist bunkum.

  82. PlasticPaddy says:

    @tr
    As I and other contributors have indicated, 4-syllables is a minefield. Even our more doctrinnaire French colleagues have philoSOPHE and philosoPHIE. But maybe this is what you mean.

  83. John Cowan says:

    last three morae syllables

    Oops, yes, of course.

    The modern Greek for ‘kilometer’, by the way, is χιλιόμετρο, with the stress on — yes! — the linking vowel.

  84. John Cowan says:

    for which purpose -re and -le don’t count as syllables

    In Brithenig, stress falls on the final syllable consistently, except that consonant + final /r/ or /l/ is pronounced with an echo of the previous vowel, which bears the stress. So ffenestr is [fəˈnɛstər], llifr is [ɬivɪr], and ystafl is [ɪˈstavəl]. Note the stress-controlled vowel reductions and the i/y merger.

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Doesn’t that apply to all e-muets, not just those following a liquid?

    Sure, but naïvely you’d think that that leaves a syllabic /r/ or /l/ behind. The trick is that it doesn’t. When /r/ and /l/ between a consonant and e muet aren’t dropped entirely, they’re often devoiced to make the violation of the sonority hierarchy less egregious. French lacks syllabic consonants, and goes to pretty great lengths to keep it that way.

    Even our more doctrinnaire French colleagues have philoSOPHE and philosoPHIE.

    That’s the wholly predictable prepausal stress I was talking about.

  86. PlasticPaddy says:

    diachronic, diagonal-the pronunciation is conventional and could change (see controversy). In Germany I came across a headline in 1981: das Telefonbuch heisst jetzt Telefonbuch where the stress was altered (I think successfully) by fiat.

  87. David Marjanović says:

    Altering the pronunciation of German by fiat? On whose authority?

    Telefon has two pronunciations: northern /ˈteːlɛˌfoːn/ and southern /tɛlɛˈfoːn/.

  88. @TR let’s not get into an altercation (there’s one), but your repeating a tiny set of examples is not getting us anywhere. Nobody’s denying that some 4-syllable words get antepenult stress. Bringing forward only confirming examples is just bad science. That some words get stress like that could be easily explained by it being just random and ad-hoc. To be helpful you have to find a rule that does a lot better than random. (Furthermore 4-syllable words typically end in an easily recognisable weak suffix like -y, -ic, -al, -ive, so your rule has to have much better than 1-in-3 success.)

    As it happens, to my ear PHILoSOPHy (the subject of my Degree) is less of an atrocity than kilOmeter. If we’re at least trying to help a language learner be understood, that’s not too bad, whereas applying the dumb rule to logically anthropoidal telescopic minimalist pedagogy will only get them laughed at.

    Yes by “probably antepenult” I meant antepenult if you can, penult if you can’t.

  89. I thought we were just talking about compounds in -y; compounds in -ic etc. (not to mention non-compounds like logically) behave differently. For the former, insofar as there is a rule it seems to be “stress the linking vowel”.

  90. @David M That’s the wholly predictable prepausal stress I was talking about.

    So because it’s wholly predictable, it is not evidence (is what the wp article goes on to say). If I hear “50 kilomètres presque” I’m as entitled to pick the first syllable or the third as stressed. What (nearly [*]) nobody does in Europe is stress the second syllable. So we can blame the dumb rule for the American pronunciation.

    In fact I think the American is worse than that. I hear the ‘l’ getting swallowed into the first syllable, as if the stem were Ometer, and the kil- is some sort of prefix. Like speed-Ometer? where indeed the ‘d’ does belong with the prefix.

    I hear the same pathology in Opathy, prefix psych. Contrast I say psyCHO-logy.

    [*] Brits used to stress the first syllable. As the American has taken over, so has Britain become less European, like the disappearing Cheshire Cat aka Nigel Farrage.

  91. What (nearly [*]) nobody does in Europe is stress the second syllable

    Well, the Spanish do (kilómetro), but the American stress pattern in kiLOmeter has nothing to do with other languages — it seems (as you imply) to be analogical with speedOmeter, odOmeter etc.

  92. David Marjanović says:

    So because it’s wholly predictable, it is not evidence

    People don’t hear the phonemic distinctions of other languages if they haven’t learned them well. They hear the phonemic distinctions of their own language(s), and map the phonetic distinctions of other languages to those, no matter if those are irrelevant to the phonemic distinctions of those languages.

    I’d say 50 kilomètres presque as [sæ̃ˌkɒ̈̃tkilomɛtˈpʀ̥ɛsk], or more slowly as [sæ̃ŋˌkɒ̈̃ntkiloˌmɛtx͡ʀ̥ˈpʀ̥ɛsk].

    the disappearing Cheshire Cat aka Nigel Farrage

    Alice in Brexitland by Leavis Carroll? Highly recommended. 🙂

  93. As it happens, to my ear PHILoSOPHy (the subject of my Degree) is less of an atrocity than kilOmeter. If we’re at least trying to help a language learner be understood, that’s not too bad,

    I suspect you’re an extreme outlier. I hear “PHILoSOPHy” as completely impossible (and, of course, kilOmeter as completely natural), and I’m pretty sure a lot more people would agree with me than with you.

  94. AJP Crown says:

    but the American stress pattern in kiLOmeter

    No, no, no.

    KILLO-metre was the ONLY English pronunciation in England until I was about fifteen (1968). The other thing comes from joining the Common Market; decimal coinage was also introduced around that time (1970), it’s all related. I would still rather lie naked in November mud and be torn limb from limb by a pack of hounds than say “kill-LOMM-eater”. Ugh. Kilos are factors of a thousand, what are “lomms”?

  95. Americans are loathe to accept a four-syllable word in place of ‘mile,’ especially when it only gets us five-ninths as far. It’s going to take two dark ages and three thousand years to work kilometer down to klom, or lomm. Whatever.

    ‘Klick’ is better. One syllable, so no fuss about where to put the accent. We’ve got a million veterans of sorry wars who already know ‘klick.’

  96. The spelling loathe for the adjective is becoming common, and is regarded by some as a legitimate variant.

    Five eighths.

    🙂

  97. I first saw loth and still prefer it.

  98. loath:loathe::wreath:wreathe. See also bath/e, breath/e, swath/e

    I would regard adjectival loathe as a misspelling or mispronunciation. But voiced th in loathsome is too widespread a variant to deprecate. Maybe time to allow “loathesome”?

  99. John Cowan says:

    Voiced th in loathsome is what the OED2 lists, so it’s almost certainly the inherited form, as the OED2’s pronunciations mostly come from about 1850. The lack of e in the spelling is just one of those things, as with mouth the verb, which should probably be spelled mouthe, and indeed was in ME days.

    I too like klick despite never having served; it has the advantage of being utterly different from kilo, if not quite as distinct as mile and pound. Green’s first cites it in 1965, with alternative spelling click, which is apparently still current.

  100. I’m just surprised anyone has heard Americans say the word kilometer often enough to be aware of the American pronunciation. I thought it was only used for two weeks in grade school when we were all taught that one day soon, we’d all need to know the metric system.

    I think if I actually ever said the word, it would have 3 syllables — Clah-ma-der. But that’s such an arcane question, how an American would say kilometer. Like asking the Orthodox how to pronounce the tetragrammaton, or Ron Weasley how to say Voldemort.

  101. AJP Crown says:

    To Weasley, Voldemort is She who must be obeyed.

    “Voiced th” – I just saw a Norwegian camera ad that consistently misspells tether as “theter”:

    Trådløst thetering system. Theter Tools har lansert et nytt trådløst theter-system…

    (Wireless tethering system. Tether Tools has launched a new wireless tethering system…)

    So either the translator was a tiny bit dyslexic or the first one put a spanner in the spell-checking gadgetry for the remainder; or both.

  102. David Marjanović says:

    I’m just surprised anyone has heard Americans say the word kilometer often enough to be aware of the American pronunciation.

    Star Trek.

    As you said: “one day soon”…

  103. We do of course use one metric distance, the k.

    But it’s only used for 5k and 10k races. What the k may mean is archaic and obscure, like the furlong.

  104. I used to say ‘KILL-o-metre’ until I heard it pronounced as ‘kill-O-metre’ in a British war movie. (I vaguely remember they were in a submarine.)

  105. John Cowan says:

    I had the one-day intro in elementary school, but in high school (1971-74) the first-year science class (traditionally biology in the U.S.) began with a very thorough introduction to the metric system lasting several weeks, which definitely included the standard American pronunciations. However, moles and degrees Kelvin (as they were called then) were not discussed until chemistry (third year) and amperes not until physics (fourth year). Radians were discussed in math class only, and candelas and steradians weren’t mentioned as far as I remember.

    So anyone who talks to an American scientist, or even a scientific American (pun intended) like me, will find them reasonably knowledgeable, although their measurement intuitions outside the field (how many meters from here to the corner?) will be lacking. Of course, by no means all Americans had a science curriculum in high school, or even went to high school.

    My rule-of-thumb conversions suitable for doing in one’s head: 5 cm is 2 inches, 1 m is 10% more than 1 yard (3 feet), 1 kg is 10% more than 2 pounds, 3 miles is 5 km, and a Celsius degree is rather less than 2 Fahrenheit degrees (9/5 exactly), though computing the offset is annoying.

  106. I think everyone got the conversions, often delivered in horrible joky aphorisms like “give em 2.5 cm and they’ll take 1.6 km.” They even showed up on our milk cartons at lunch. The forces of the metric borg might have won If not for that blunder, which turned everyone against them.

  107. Metric won in Australia, and we still say “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” (or an ell).

  108. I’m just surprised anyone has heard Americans say the word kilometer often enough to be aware of the American pronunciation.

    I think you’ll find most of American science and research uses metric units (although they might say so sotto voce). In particular, NASA’s work involves so much international collaboration, they’re pretty much forced to — especially after they famously lost the Mars Climate Orbiter 1999 to a dumb lack of Imperial/Metric conversion amongst vendors. NASA, SpaceX, etc commentary for space launches is all in kil-Ometers (at least in all the places I come across it, which is outside the U.S.)

    Also Imperial Units these days are defined in terms of the metric ones.

  109. I used to read techno-thrillers and in these books American military uses kilometers all the time. Though for some reason they call them “clicks”.

  110. Lars Mathiesen says:

    The US inch was originally (well, since 1853) 39.37 to the meter, but it is now 2.54 cm. (1 yard = .9144m). This is a change of 2 parts per million.

    I was once told that when the definition changed in 1959, the US Survey had to adjust coordinates for basically everything since the datum was in Washington and property limits would move by 25 feet in places like Los Angeles. From reading Wikipedia just now, it seems that they sensibly kept using the old definition until the old survey could be replaced by one using meters (in 1981).

  111. AJP Crown says:

    a Celsius degree is rather less than 2 Fahrenheit degrees (9/5 exactly), though computing the offset is annoying

    Bugger the offset; just double it, I say. For an approximation of the reality of centigrade weather, you double their number and add 32. To see how far off that is, take the easy-to-remember benchmark 16C = 61F and you see that double 16 plus 32 is 64.

  112. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I like to remember where both scales hit decades. -40C = -40F, 10C = 50F, 160C = 320F (for baking).

    A number of the quick conversions above involve 10 percent in some way.

    Measure metres and add 10 percent to get yards — 0.9144m ~ 0.9090…m.
    Measure kilos, double and add 10 percent to get pounds — 453.592g ~ 454.545…g.
    Measure Celcius, double and subtract 10 percent to get Fahrenheit (when extrapolating from the fixpoints above, or just add 32 in general) — exact.

    The problem is remembering when to add and when to subtract.

    The mile thing is harder to do quickly. It seems that there are eight furlongs to the mile, and a furlong is as close as anything to 200m, but that doesn’t really help.

    But if you get good at the 10 percent thing: Measure miles, double and subtract 10 percent, then subtract 10 percent of that. (1.609344km ~ 1.620km)

  113. AJP Crown says:

    a furlong is as close as anything to 200m

    That’s a good point. Furlongs are important at the races (horse).

    The Furlong was abolished for official use in the UK in 1985. However, it is still uncommonly seen on road signs in villages, along with miles and chains. The same also applies in Burma.

    All roads lead to Rangoon. Well not all, apparently. But there’s The Road to Mandalay too. What’s up with Burma’s road system?

  114. Here are the Imperial and metric dimensions in the 2019-20 edition of the Laws of the Game [of soccer]:

    0.6-1.1 atmosphere (600–1,100 g/cm2) (8.5lbs/sq in–15.6 lbs/sq in)

    1.5 m (5 ft)

    100 m (110 yds)

    11 m (12 yds)

    110 m (120 yds)

    12 cm (5 ins)

    120 m (130 yds)

    16.5 m (18 yds)

    2.44 m (8 ft)

    410 g (14 oz)

    45 m (50 yds)

    450 g (16 oz)

    5.5 m (6 yds)

    64 m (70 yds)

    68 cm (27 ins)

    7.32 m (8 yds)

    70 cm (28 ins)

    75 m (80 yds)

    9.15 m (10 yds)

    90 m (100 yds)

    The exact measurements are the 8yd x 8ft goal and the 10yd free-kick encroachment radius. The [12yd] penalty kick is called an “Elfmeter” in Germany.

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