RESTORING FALLEN FINALS.

Anatoly, in this post, mentions facts about the history of French and Russian pronunciation I didn’t know; I’ll translate:

Ricard in “History of the French Language” [I don't know what author or book is referred to here —LH] mentions that in the 17th century words like table, coffre were usually pronounced without the final [l] and [r], but in the 18th century, under the influence of the orthography, these sounds returned.
It’s curious that this recalls a situation in the Russian language, where in the first half of the 19th century корабль, рубль [korabl', rubl'] still had the standard pronunciation /korap’/, /rup’/, but then under the influence of orthography (and also of declined forms, I think) soft l returned, and the old standard forms were kept only in popular speech and dialects.

He finishes by wondering if similar developments could be found in English; it seems to me I should be able to come up with some, but I’m feeling woolly-brained, so I’ll just toss the question into the waiting crowd.

Comments

  1. Bryan Wolf says:

    The first example to come to my mind is the ‘t’ in ‘often’.

  2. I can’t think of any standard English forms that evolved this way, but it is interesting that it has happened maybe hundreds of times when a word was borrowed from French to English.

  3. I was thinkin’ about the endin’ of words that written are finishin’ with -ING. From what I am rememberin’, about a hundred years ago, it was the fashion to not be sayin’ the final G in the middle and upper classes, and thanks to orthographic influence, the G came to be said.

  4. Here’s the book I was referring to:
    Peter Rickard, A History of the French Language.

  5. I know it’s not a final “l”, but what about the l in vulnerable? Does the apparent increase in the pronunciation of that letter reflect the influence of orthography, or is it just another frequency/recency illusion?

  6. Every initial /h/ in English is a restoration of this sort.
    I bought Rickard years ago at the same time I bought Ralph Penny’s A History of the Spanish Language and A History of the Hebrew Language by Angel Sáenz-Badillos, all from the “Linguistics” rack on my then-local Barnes & Noble (eheu fugaces!). All excellent, all detailed, all extremely comprehensible to non-specialists with a modest amateur background in linguistics — but no connection whatsoever between any of them.

  7. How about the L in palm and calm.

  8. I’ve heard AAs locally pronounce the L in salmon.

  9. John Emerson says:

    The “t” in “often”. Pronouncing it is regarded as over-correction, but I could see it becoming standard.

  10. John Emerson says:

    The “t” in “often”. Pronouncing it is regarded as over-correction, but I could see it becoming standard.

  11. Nijma: “I’ve heard AAs locally pronounce the L in salmon.”
    AAs?

  12. African American, that being currently the most politically correct term, for what before was ‘colored’, then ‘Negro’, then ‘black’, then ‘of color’, then ‘black’ again, then ‘African American’. I am told that ‘black’ is still okay, and sometimes I use it in conversation, but for blogging it’s three more keystrokes. All in all it’s better to avoid that type of conversation altogether, except in blogs where you can be anonymous.

  13. AA = African American. Thanks, and no thanks. Thanks for the explanation, no thanks for rousing one of my lnigering pet peeves, the increasing use of “African American” to describe people of African ethnicity regardless of their citizenship. That nasty plague, which I’d previously only noted in US media over the last many years, is starting to surface here in NZ, too. It stirs feelings of sympathy, or at least empathy, with the extreme prescriptivists, when I hear or read of Afro-Caribbeans from UK or Som + ali NZers described as “African American”, by those think that “black” is now verboten.
    PS why is “S.o.m.a. (minus periods)” a forbidden string here?

  14. There’s also dumb, numb and the like, where I have heard the b pronounced, especially in forms like dumber or combing.

  15. Fanny Crowne says:

    Stuart -
    I don’t know. Maybe there’s an Alpha out there who could explain it to us?

  16. “Fanny Crowne” – Is that the King of Mars vocalising through his gluteus maximus? I ask merely for information, as his Marsjesty is a prodigiously polynymous personage.

  17. Bill Walderman says:

    Regarding the unpronounced /l/ in “calm,” “balm,” etc., I have a friend in rural Alabama who seems to drop the /l/ before /p/ in words such as “help” and “pulp” (as in “pup wood”).
    Then there’s an interesting series of words where American pronunciation drops an /r/ before /s/ as in bust/burst, hoss/horse (archaic and non-standard), and, of course, ass/arse.

  18. The pair waistcoat and weskit would perhaps be an example of restored middle. (Mind you, I’m not a native speaker.)

  19. michael farris says:

    I’ve read that the Swedish first person pronoun ‘jag’ is realized with a final [g] much more often now than in the past and this is attributed to the orthography as historically it wasn’t a [g] at all.

  20. michael farris says:

    “to drop the /l/ before /p/ in words such as “help” and “pulp” (as in “pup wood”)”
    I’m familiar with ‘hep’ (also common in AAVE) but hadn’t heard “pup wood” before. I sense a chance for some really interesting folk etymologies.
    “interesting series of words … bust/burst, hoss/horse (archaic and non-standard), and, of course, ass/arse”
    Not really a series.
    Whatever the etymology is, I would consider bust and burst to be separate verbs altogether (different past tense busted/burst).
    For most speakers ‘hoss’ is highly restricted with specific dialect or sociolect undertones and co-occurs with ‘horse’ with the /r/ intact.
    AFAIK ass has never existed in the US with [r] except as an or facetious spelling pronunciation.

  21. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    I’m nothing to do with Fanny Crowne.

  22. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Golf is supposed to be pronounced goff. This is a class -related thing in England, I don’t know about in Scotland, as are many of these examples; but that may be because they were the only ones to be recorded in former times.
    Dropping the h, as in ‘alf-a-crown’, which is known as a working class (i.e. not only Cockney, but also Northern England-) thing, is an upper-class English usage in Jane Austen and up to pre WW2 times.

  23. A number of Scots surnames/place-names are spelt with a yogh, now normally represented by the letter /z/: examples are Menzies, Dalziel, Mackenzie, Cadzow, Culzean. Mackenzie has long been pronounced in Scottish standard English as if the letter was /z/; the other four are not (ming-iss, dee-ell, cad-oo, cull-ane), but all such names are practically always pronounced in England with a /z/ (the Menzies of Menzies Campbell MP being the only exception).
    @ Crown AJP: golf is pronounced with an /l/ in Scottish standard English.

  24. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    It probably is in English standard English too. When i wrote golf is supposed to be pronounced goff I wasn’t being prescriptive, I was being sarcastic (or at least trying to be).

  25. The traditional pronunciation of ‘trait’ is with a silent final t, but pronouncing the t is far more common nowadays. Hat, you mentioned this in your post of 28 January 2005 (sorry, can’t do links).
    Other words that I can think of whose pronunciation has changed due to their orthography are forehead (was ‘forrid’), waistcoat, as mentioned by Pekka, and halfpenny or halfpence, which are still pronounced ‘hay-p-nee’ and ‘hay-punce’ to refer to the pre-decimalisation coin (said in plays like Shaw’s Pygmalion) but after decimalisation in 1971, we called the new, short-lived coin a half penny, and said ‘one and a half pence’, pronounced as spelled. I would say now two pence coin (3 syllables), but the pronunciation pre-decimalisation was tuppence. I would write ‘I couldn’t care twopence’ but say ‘tuppence’.

  26. Americans say “soder”. British/Australians, at least, say “solder”.

  27. British/Australians, at least, say “solder”.
    So do Aotearoans, but nobody ever remembers us when listing English-speaking countries.

  28. On the subject of golf, you hear “gowf” from people who speak broader Scots. I’ve only heard it from older people in rural areas though.

  29. I know it’s not a final “l”, but what about the l in vulnerable? Does the apparent increase in the pronunciation of that letter reflect the influence of orthography, or is it just another frequency/recency illusion?
    Boy, do we have different illusions. I don’t remember ever hearing “vunerable” until the early ’80s, from my (considerably younger) girlfriend, and at that point I thought it was a personal peculiarity of hers. Later I heard it from a few other people, but it still strikes me an occasional mispronunciation; I am backed up by Merriam-Webster, which lists several pronunciations but none without the -l-.
    PS why is “S.o.m.a. (minus periods)” a forbidden string here?
    Sigh… It’s one of those words that shows up in a wave of spam comments, and if I’m in an impatient mood I decide the easiest way to catch all the comments is just to add the word to the blacklist, and then someone comes along and complains and I remove it. It’s gone now. (The first case of this I recall was “cialis,” which I banned without realizing it would make it impossible to use words like “specialist” and “socialist.” I quickly learned the error of my ways.)
    examples are Menzies, Dalziel, Mackenzie, Cadzow, Culzean… (ming-iss, dee-ell, cad-oo, cull-ane), but all such names are practically always pronounced in England with a /z/
    I was familiar with all but Cadzow, which is so rare it’s not in Daniel Jones’s Pronouncing Dictionary or Scottish Surnames & Families, but it is in the BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names, with ['kædzoʊ] the only pronunciation listed; I added yours as Scottish.
    Thanks for all the great examples, everyone!

  30. Oh yeah: I posted about “trait” here and “solder” here (lots of interesting information in the comments).

  31. John Emerson says:

    (The first case of this I recall was “cialis,” which I banned without realizing it would make it impossible to use words like “specialist” and “socialist.” I quickly learned the error of my ways.)
    The naming specialists at Cialis, Inc. are laughing at you as we speak.

  32. John Emerson says:

    (The first case of this I recall was “cialis,” which I banned without realizing it would make it impossible to use words like “specialist” and “socialist.” I quickly learned the error of my ways.)
    The naming specialists at Cialis, Inc. are laughing at you as we speak.

  33. Sorry Stuart, no offense meant to the Land of the Long White Cloud ! I was only mentioning pronounciations I knew from personal experience. Given there are differences between Kiwi and Oz locutions – “six” and “sux” for example – I didn’t want to take a chance….

  34. I believe “housewife” is a case of this, the old pronunciation surviving as “hussy.”

  35. I read somewhere recently (don’t remember where now) that some uncommon Latinate words are being pronounced with more of a spelling pronunciation, so that, for example, “consortium” becomes “cun-SOR-tee-um” instead of “cun-SOR-shum.”

  36. “consortium” becomes “cun-SOR-tee-um” instead of “cun-SOR-shum.”
    Just don’t tell the Ossetians.

  37. komfo,amonan says:

    Wait. Somali New Zealanders are referred to as “African Americans”? In the U.S. press? What paper? That’s embarrassing.

  38. >”Wait. Somali New Zealanders are referred to as “African Americans”? In the U.S. press? What paper? That’s embarrassing.”
    Sorry, I ought to have been clearer. What I meant was that the practice of referring to people of African ethnicity as “African-American” regardless of their citizenship has apparently started to spread beyond the US.
    I have seen Afro-Caribbeans from the UK described as “African-American” in US news media online, but recently I’ve noticed that Somalis and other immigrants to this country are being referred to as “African-American” by some people here in NZ.
    The impression I get is that the people using the term believe that it is the socially acceptable way to refer to people of African ethnicity.

  39. “Forehead” once pronounced FORR-id but now it’s become FORE-head.

  40. Which has nothing to do with fallen finals… I should go to sleep now.

  41. “A number of Scots surnames/place-names are spelt with a yogh, now normally represented by the letter /z/: examples are Menzies, Dalziel, Mackenzie, Cadzow, Culzean. Mackenzie has long been pronounced in Scottish standard English as if the letter was /z/; the other four are not (ming-iss, dee-ell, cad-oo, cull-ane), but all such names are practically always pronounced in England with a /z/ (the Menzies of Menzies Campbell MP being the only exception).”
    It seems to me that because of the long-running BBC crime series “Dalziel and Pascoe”, most English people are now quite familiar with the correct pronunciation of Dalziel.

  42. Which has nothing to do with fallen finals
    Actually, none of the suggestions here have involved finals except for trait, so don’t worry about it.

  43. John Emerson says:

    I normally say “suprized” or hurriedly “sprized” for “surprised”. I actually don’t know if pronouncing the first “r” is standard or not, but I think I hear it now and then (heretofore I haven’t really thought about it or paid attention).

  44. John Emerson says:

    I normally say “suprized” or hurriedly “sprized” for “surprised”. I actually don’t know if pronouncing the first “r” is standard or not, but I think I hear it now and then (heretofore I haven’t really thought about it or paid attention).

  45. marie-lucie says:

    (calm, palm) and psalm and walk and talk.
    Scottish written z: I am very glad to learn about this peculiarity, which I had never encountered before, except for Dalziel as “Dee-ell”: I thought it was just an affectation of the author, invented to add yet one more eccentricity to the character. I had no idea that there was no z sound there at all. I am still puzzled about the first syllable though.

  46. marie-lucie says:

    About the French and Russian loss of final l after a consonant: this is still done in spoken French. It sounds uneducated if the word is at the end of a word-group, but it is done by all classes if the word is followed by another starting with a consonant. For instance, to ask someone to ‘set the table’ you would say in careless speech “mets la tab” rather than the more caredul “mets la table”, but you would have to be a ridiculously pedantic person to pronounce “table de nuit” ‘night table’ other than “tab de nuit”. Similarly for final r, as in “arbre” pronounced carelessly “arb”, but “arb de Noël” is the only normal pronunciation for “arbre de Noël” ‘Christmas tree’. (The exception is people from Southern France, whose forebears spoke Occitan and learned French in school, who continue to use a spelling pronunciation, pronouncing every e and therefore also every consonant preceding one).

  47. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    I bet that sounds great. I think the Occ language is very interesting. Reading the Wiki thing has also made me understand how Latin speakers got away with having no ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Latin. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Occitan spoken (to my knowledge) and I don’t understand why it doesn’t get more publicity nowadays in English-speaking countries. It says in Wikipedia that over half a million still have it as their first language or speak it equally with French. Occitania has been recognised by the people of Mars.

  48. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard Occitan spoken (to my knowledge) and I don’t understand why it doesn’t get more publicity nowadays in English-speaking countries.”
    If I remember correctly, one of Terry Jones light historical documentary series featured someone in a bar singing in Occitan in one episode.

  49. Preachy Preach says:

    Pontefract in Yorkshire used to be pronounced ‘Pomfret’, but this survives (barely) really only in pomfret cakes.

  50. A. J. P. Crown says:

    And, of course, in pommes frites.

  51. Heh.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    (Occitan) It says in Wikipedia that over half a million still have it as their first language or speak it equally with French.
    I am not able to evaluate this number but it probably refers to rural people who are now quite elderly. There is also a revivalist interest in younger, urban people. Hearing speech from those two groups would be quite different, with the older people speaking different local dialects and the second-language ones speaking a deliberately normalized, more unified version. I sent a comment about it some time ago. The language which is closest to Occitan (which comes in several regional varieties) is Catalan.

  53. Well, I had to spend a year and a half in England before anyone took pity and corrected my /sælmɔn/.

  54. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Huh. Can’t find the comment. It didn’t sound in Wiki like it’s only older people who have it as a first language, but maybe I misunderstood.

  55. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Heh. My wife says sall-mon. She likes the sound of it better than sammon, I think.

  56. You seem to have acquired the huh/heh nuance rather quickly, Crown.
    I knew someone who insisted that “swordfish” was properly pronounced with the w. He was a strange guy.

  57. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Thank you. Swordfish is a good word to mispronounce since it hardly ever comes up in conversation. On the other hand, if he’s trying to covert people he’d be better off focusing on some more popular fish. Cod, say: “it’s really pronounced cudd, ‘chewing the cudd‘”.

  58. Michael Farris: ”I’ve read that the Swedish first person pronoun ‘jag’ is realized with a final [g] much more often now than in the past and this is attributed to the orthography as historically it wasn’t a [g] at all.”
    This tendency has also lead to cases of hypercorrect ”jag” instead of ”ja” ’yes’.

  59. My students have problems with the silent letters in “listen” and “answer”, common words in any foreign language class. The w in write doesn’t give them any problem though, and they seem to pick up on silent e pretty quickly.

  60. I’ve heard /ælmɔnd/ for almond as well as /sælmɔn/ for salmon. Only the last syllables rhyme for me.
    It strikes me that Kiwis who call Afro-Caribbeans African Americans may be characterizing their hemisphere is origin (like West Indians vs. East Indians) rather than their citizenship. But I don’t think such an explanation would work in the U.S.

  61. marie-lucie says:

    (Occitan) It didn’t sound in Wiki like it’s only older people who have it as a first language, but maybe I misunderstood.
    I think that the Wiki article is overoptimistic in its effort to promote Occitan and the Occitan culture.

  62. Too bad.

  63. parvomagnus says:

    heh, I never really use “solder”, so I was in my late teens before I realized that the pronunciation “sodder” fit with the spelling “solder” – I’d heard the one and seen the other, but never put ‘em together.
    And re: one of the first comments, ‘h’ in English is only a restored sound in Romance borrowings. Stout Germanic words like “help” or “harry” or “hew” have had it ever since it stopped being a /k/ a few thousand years back.
    Another that occured to me is “dour” – not a restoration, per se, but having mainly encountered it in writing, I’ve always pronounced it /dawr/, rather than /dur/. It was only later that I actually heard it said. The OED lists only the 2nd pronunciation, though other dictionaries list my “sight pronunciation” as an alternate.

  64. Parvo’s comment on “dour” sparked my neuron into life. I grew up pronouncing that word the way parvo did, and had to practice the “correct” pronunciation. Thinking of that reminded me of a possible orthography-influenced “restoration” – pronouncing the “h” in vehement. I grew up saying “ve-HEM-ent”, etc., and got into the habit of saying “vee-ə-mənt” after having been publicly corrected. Now I am hearing “ve-HEM-ent” and its spawn with increasing frequency, it seems.

  65. Huh. Can’t it be pronounced dau-er? That’s what I say, anyway.

  66. I grew up pronouncing that word the way parvo did, and had to practice the “correct” pronunciation.
    Same here, but now I’ve gone back to DOW-er, because I realized the “correct” pronunciation is Scottish and that’s pretty irrelevant for anyone else if you ask me. I’ve never heard anyone actually say “dooor” (except me, back when I was being “correct”/pretentious), so I’m pretty sure DOW-er is the standard American pronunciation, and saying it that way makes it far more likely you’ll be understood.

  67. All English dictionaries after Dr J.’s were written by Scotspersons, that’s what Dearieme said. That’s why the pronunciations are Scottish. It’s crazy really.

  68. I’ve never heard anyone actually say “dooor” (except me, back when I was being “correct”/pretentious)
    My experience is that most people who know the word at all also at some point learned the “correct” pronunciation, so if I were to revert to DOW-er I’d be doing it less to be understood than to make a point. I just might.
    Fuck, Hat. Good luck fighting the cocksucking spammers this morning.

  69. I would have called them spamming cocksuckers, myself.

  70. Sure, I’ll take the rewrite.
    But it doesn’t seem to be going well. Those cunts are relentless. (I think it was Nijma who was musing in another post about why people have a need to curse. Answer: spammers. Fucking spammers. Robin got hit this morning too, though I don’t think this bad.)

  71. Eimear Ní Mhéalóid says:

    I think “dOOOr” is also the more common pronunciation in Ireland. Also, we say either “forrid” or “forr-head”.
    I seem to remember that there are two different paths to pronouncing -ing words the way mentioned. One is where it applies to verb endings only, like the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ upper-class English example. The other is where nearly every -ing sound in every word is sounded this way, including words like “bring”. (It doesn’t happen to the word “thing” although it does happen to the words “anything”, “something”, etc.)

  72. ‘Relentless Cunts’ is a very good title, I don’t know for what yet. i don’t understand what reward the spammers get for all their work, unless it’s in Heaven.

  73. parvomagnus says:

    I’ve never heard anyone actually say “dooor” …
    Yeah, I’ve stuck with /dawr/ myself. And I heard it as /dur/ not in conversation, but on TV, from Stephen Fry qua Jeeves. So that’s like two layers of linguistic hoity-toitiness.
    And nothing/something is the only non-participle I’d pronounce with simple -in. I don’t think I really pronounce gerunds that way naturally, though it’s hard to accurately judge one’s one speech. I’d never myself use the -in pronunciation for “bring”, and I’ve never (consciously) noticed it. Where’s it common?

  74. where nearly every -ing sound in every word is sounded this way, including words like “bring”.
    I have never heard this or heard of it, and I find it hard to believe. As far as I know, stressed -ing is never reduced.

  75. why people have a need to curse
    I rarely get spam, as my bog is a subdomain of WordPress and they have spam filters. The other thing about using WordPress is they ask if you’re site is child-friendly. I said yes. If you spend any time at my blog (and no one ever does, they ussually get there by googling a specific subject) you will notice it is also Arab friendly. This is difficult as it is a very conservative culture, where a woman can be killed for even talking to a man. In fact, if you follow my Mahjoob Arabic cartoon widget to their blog, you will see they have separate comment areas for men and women. So I have never published, say, pictures of bare arms or legs that would be embarrassing, if not dangerous to look at over there. The only time I printed the word “kiss” (illegal!) it had the word “creepy” next to it. I try to stay in the same character wherever I comment.
    Some days I find this excessively restrictive and think about starting a blog where I can swear. Here is one that does:
    http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/wednesday-the-r-word-vs-the-c-word/
    For those who found the overnight spambots disturbing, perhaps the new term she added to her lexicon today could be applied to them.

  76. Since I slept through the spam, I’ll return to “dour”. I think that here in NZ, the only people who would use the word at all are people who pronounce it the “Scottish” way, so there’s no comprehensibility issue there.

  77. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    And nothing/something is the only non-participle I’d pronounce with simple -in.
    Where on Earth are you from, Parvo? I can’t think of any contemporary British accent that knocks the g off something and nothing. Cockney/mockney never. Irish accents, maybe. Costume drama, definitely.

  78. A. J. P. Crown says:

    The only time I’ve heard Dooer is as a brand of whisky, but if Jeeves says it it must be right.

  79. I can’t think of any contemporary British accent that knocks the g off something and nothing.
    American midwest rural accent sumthin’ and nuthin’. In both cases this is not the syllable with the accent.
    bring?–no, the “g” is not dropped. But the past tense is “brung”
    “thing” becomes “thang” in the Chicago bar scene.
    Homer Simpson says “DeWar’s Whiskey…Mmmmmmmm …………..”
    Where’s His Marsjesty? I hope the Martian economy is not playing havoc with his investments…although one would expect a sovereign to be somewhat cushioned from that sort of thing.

  80. parvomagnus says:

    The Texas panhandle, where’s often heard “nuthin”, or even “nuttin”, with a glottal stop sittin’ in for the th. This is not the exclusive pronunciation, of course; the regular -ing form is alive and well. Nothin/somethin is about as informal, to my ears, as “walkin” or “wanna”.
    For g-dropping in a word like ‘bring’, that does seem less likely the more I think about it. With “sing”, it would be erasing the phonemic distinction between sing/sin. It might happen with “bring that over here” in rapid speech, with the /ŋ/ in “bring” assimilating to the /ð/ in “that”. But that’s nothing that would happen in isolation, or that many people would perceive, I think; your brain generally ignores that sort of thing.

  81. parvomagnus says:

    Just to specify, for those who this accent’s exotic for, “brung” is beyond the pale in a way that “nothin” isn’t.

  82. michael farris says:

    Obligatory preface: Of course ‘dropping g’s’ has nothing to do with [g]. It’s about changing /iN/ or /in/ (in roughly free varition when final and non-stressed in most varieties of English) to /@n/ or just (syllabic) /n/ or {N}?.
    Where I was brought up (rural Florida) sumpin’ and nutin’ The latter has a glottal stop followed by syllablic /n/ and the former ends (for me) in a nasalized vowel, glottal stop and syllabic /m/ sequence.
    I agree with parvo that maybe monosyllables ending in /iN/ might undergo some assimilation in connected speech (bring that here with a nasalized /i/ and no nasal consonant at all sounds fine for me but I would never say it that way in isolation.
    Also I had no idea that anyone did/could/would say ‘dour’ in any other way than rhyming with ‘sour’ and ‘power’. But, now that I think of it, I’m not really sure I’ve actually heard anyone say that word. I know it entirely (or almost entirely) in written form.

  83. michael farris says:

    Just to clarify by ‘obligatory preface’ I mean: “I’m sure everybody here knows this but I’ll repeat it just to be pedantic.” … You’re welcome.

  84. “brung” is beyond the pale in a way that “nothin” isn’t.
    I could say “nothin’” in a staff meeting and no one would think twice. “Brung” would be more of a marker of someone who went to a one-room country school. But it’s indispensable in the phrase “dance with who brung you”.

  85. mollymooly says:

    In connection with “dour” in Ireland: I used to pronounce “ghoul” to rhyme with “foul” rather than “joule”, because of confusion with gowl, Cork slang for a fool.

  86. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Thanks, Parvo. Now you say Texas I can very easily imagine Bush or Larry Hagman saying it. ‘Brung’ sounds fake (i.e. not current) to my ears.
    I’m not well-enough up in linguistics to understand it, but thanks for the obligatory preface, Michael. If you would like to hear Stephen Fry say ‘doooer’, “Jeeves and Wooster” can be purchased very cheaply from Amazon uk. Ever since our television broke a month ago (heh, heh) we’ve been watching an episode every night.

  87. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    That reminds me that i just read an obituary of the writer Peter Vansittart in The Independent which describes how, when ‘browsing in a local shop named Booklover’s Corner during the school holidays, the teenage Vansittart met “a tall, thin, abrupt” assistant who tried to sell him a copy of Trader Horn in Madagascar rather than the P.G. Wodehouse novel that his customer preferred. The assistant, Vansittart later discovered, was George Orwell.’
    Admirable in many ways George Orwell was also a bit of a wanker.

  88. marie-lucie says:

    brung should be a past participle: bring/brang/brung like sing/sang/sung (or maybe I am wrong: the model could be sting/stung/stung – is that right?). I don’t think I have ever heard or even read brung, but I have heard brang for the past tense – always from children, I think.

  89. brung is very common in non-standard NZ English. It is probably even more common in Maori English, but still non-standard.

  90. Maneki Nekko says:

    C S Lewis wrote in one of his essays that he grew up pronouncing handkerchief as “hankerchey” and was taken aback when he began hearing young people saying “hankerchiff.”

  91. marie-lucie: brung
    I think it follows more the pattern of
    bring/brought/brought
    bring/brung/done brung (or maybe just brung)
    examples:
    present: He oughtta bring her to the dance.
    past: Last night he brung her to the dance.
    present participle: He done brung her to the dance already. (or “He brung her to the dance twice last week.”)
    passive-She was brung to the dance by a neighbor.
    other verbs:
    see/seen/done seen
    present: I see the car.
    past: Yesterday I seen the car.
    participle: I done seen that car before. (or “I seen that car before.” or negative “I ain’t seen that car before”)(done is probably emphatic?)
    eat/ate/done ate
    past part.- We done ate already.
    come/come/done come
    past: Yesterday we come uptown.
    It’s been years since I’ve heard this kind of speech pattern and I’m sitting here with an Azar grammar in my mind replacing all the common verbs with the way they should sound in this accent–they’re ALL different. These remind me of Mark Twain’s “four dialects” in Huckleberry Finn.
    I saw the “brung” reference once in a coaching book for training the marathon. They were describing the training schedule for one of the clients –a diabetic whose insulin schedule they had to work around–and said “we have to dance with who brung us”. The meaning was the guy was not an ideal client but he was the one who was paying, so his idiosyncrasies had to be worked around.

  92. Michael Farris says:

    That doesn’t sound exactly like the meaning of ‘dance with the one that brung X’ I’m used to.
    IME it means ‘be loyal’ (especially to someone/something you that’s been successful for you, even when there’s a temptation to change).
    Some googling shows it’s used a lot by coaches in justifying not making changes to strategies and/or starting lineup when there’s pressure to do that.
    For maximum folk-flavor use ‘what’ as the relative pronoun “dance with the one what brung you”

  93. michael farris says:

    Oh and I’ll vouch for the verb pattern (found often in colloquial speech in the Southern US) of just two forms for the verb non-past/past(often differing from the standard form and from place to place) very rare (or only very formal) use of the present perfect and the use of a similar tense with ‘done’ though it doesn’t correspond exactly with the perfect. I think (though I might be wrong) it’s more likely to occur with telic than non-telic verbs.
    “I done tol(d) him” (in connected speech the d here is liable to not occur)
    “They done fixed that yet?”
    “She done gone already.”
    but
    ?? “I done saw it.”
    ? “I done seed it.”
    ?? “I done lived here for two years.”
    I won’t say nobody says those but they sound odd to me.

  94. David Marjanović says:

    Language Log has several times had posts mentioning that in England (except the extreme north) /h/ disappeared completely, starting in London before Shakespeare’s time, and was then reintroduced from the spelling by the upper class not long ago. In places like America, however, it was always there.
    West Flemish also drops all aitches, but no other dialect of Dutch or German or AFAIK Frisian does.

  95. marie-lucie says:

    (I done …) It seems to me that “done” always has a suggestion of finishing something, hence the lack of use with atelic (non-goal-oriented) verbs – you don’t finish seeing something, or living where you still do.
    (dropping h) If pronouncing h is a recent phenomenon, they why is it that the divide between pronouncing and not pronouncing initial h falls neatly between words of Latin origin (eg honour) and words of Germanic origin (eg ham, house, holiday, hollow, hell, etc? The exception is words of Greek origin, which pronounce the h, as in history and harmony and the prefixes hypo and hyper. It seems to me that artificially reintroducing the pronunciation would have led either to h being pronounced across the board, without regard to origins, or to a large number of hesitations and alternate pronunciations (as in historic(al)), but in fact there is a lot of consistency, especially in the words of Germanic origin. How would the majority of speakers remember which words are which if they had had to memorize them after a reform?

  96. For maximum folk-flavor use ‘what’ as the relative pronoun “dance with the one what brung you”
    Sounds better. Even better would be “Dance with them what brung you.”
    The passive example above was just interpolation on my part trying to fill in the missing grammar bits. I don’t remember actually hearing the passive voice.

  97. David Marjanović says:

    Ninety comments. You know what? You should join ScienceBlogs.

    a large number of hesitations and alternate pronunciations (as in historic(al))

    The “an historic(al)” phenomenon comes from people using [ɦ] instead of [h]. Read the discussion on this page, means, comments 14, 31, 34, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48, 49, 56, 65, and… oops, I seem to have killed that discussion by writing comment 65.
    The h of words like hospital used to be silent, says Language Log. Start here and follow the many links at the bottom.
    The King James Bible (1611) consistently uses “an”/”mine”/”thine” in front of every word with h, for example “an hundred”. I used to think this was a merely orthographical attempt to make English look more Romance, but maybe it’s not.

    Stout Germanic words like “help” or “harry” or “hew” have had it ever since it stopped being a /k/ a few thousand years back.

    Maybe just two thousand — remember the Roman lists of Germanic tribes like Chatti, after whom Hessen is named.

  98. marie-lucie says:

    David, actually your last comment on Pharyngula was not 65 but 88. (I did not know that blog but if that thread is typical, it looks very interesting).
    About the King James Bible:
    - I understand that it was considered archaic when it came out (since formality often implies archaism).
    - Was its use of an/mine/etc before h an innovation, or a continuation of an earlier usage? I would think the latter. I can’t imagine that it was “a merely orthographical attempt to make English look more Romance”.
    About Roman Chatti: the natural intermediary between [k] and [h] is [x] (velar fricative) and that is most likely what is meant by ch in Latin.

  99. michael farris: ?? “I done saw it.”/
    ? “I done seed it.”/?? “I done lived here for two years.”…I won’t say nobody says those but they sound odd to me.

    see/seen/seen (or done seen?)
    I seen that movie before.
    I seen Nellie home after the quilting party.
    There’s a ghost in the cemetery: I done seen it.
    lived: That example doesn’t sound right because who with that dialect has ever lived anywhere else? “I done lived here all my life”? I am thinking of the AA “stay by”. “She stays by 87th street.” Maybe the equivalent midwest rural dialect would be “She’s in Sioux City now. She done moved there with that Larry fella she married.”

  100. I am thinking of the AA “stay by”. “She stays by 87th street.”
    This might be complicated by other factors, though. The use of “stay” for “live” is standard in Maori English, and very common in otherwise fluent English speakers whose first language is Hindi or Punjabi, both of which languages use a verb meaning “stay” to indicate location of dwelling. Perhaps AA is similarly influenced?

  101. The first example to come to my mind is the ‘t’ in ‘often’.
    Yes. Strange that we don’t normally think of sof[t]en immediately after of[t]en. It is interesting as a case in which there has been no tendency to restore the /t/, ugye?
    Which reminds me: do any Americans say “forrid” (standard in Australian, British, etc.) for forehead, or do they pretty well all say “fore+head”? Many young Ozfolk have picked up that American way, as many are also saying “ADvertisement” instead of their native “adVERtisement”, and so on.

  102. Crown, AJP says:

    Last night watching Jeeves & Wooster I actually heard Hugh Laurie (i.e. not Stephen Fry) say ‘dooer’. It’s series two episode three, or something like that and he was lying in bed. Perhaps Fry did it too, but I haven’t heard that one yet.

  103. marie-lucie says:

    Strange that we don’t normally think of sof[t]en immediately after of[t]en. It is interesting as a case in which there has been no tendency to restore the /t/, ugye?
    Yes, Noetica, very interesting. Similarly people don’t put a t in listen, thistle and other words.
    As a linguist, I will attempt an explanation: perhaps it is because often is an adverb, and therefore a non-obligatory component of a sentence, while each sentence needs to have a verb, which usually has a complement of some sort, so that the verb tends to have other words after it and therefore to be less noticeable. An adverb such as often adds something to the sentence but does not have to be there, so it is more obvious when it does occur. Also, even the verbs which are derived from adjectives (as in soften from soft) belong to a general pattern (no t in the verb), but often is not part of a similar pattern (oft is no longer in general use as a separate word, no doubt because the significance of the difference between oft and often, whatever it was, has been forgotten).
    Of course, English speakers don’t think about such things before they open their mouths, and many people would be hard-pressed to define or even recognize a verb or an adverb but it is surprising how strongly such grammatical differences are ingrained in the subconscious mind of speakers. (This is the type of things that linguists rack their brains about).
    (but what is ugye?)

  104. It’s the Hungarian equivalent of N’est-ce pas?

  105. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, Mr Hat!

  106. Alex Kavka says:

    Michael Farris is right about Swedish. Pronouncing the final consonant in “jag” (‘I’), “med” (‘with’), “vid” (‘at’) etc. would have sounded quite pedantic ten years ago but is becoming fashionable, especially in the speech of radio and TV announcers. You can even hear them pronounce “midsommar” (the Midsummer holiday) as [mi:dsommar] instead of the standard [missommar].
    But I’ve never noticed a hypercorrect [jag] for “ja” (‘yes’). Where did you hear that, Lugubert?
    In English, I was taught to pronounce the first syllable of “Wednesday” as [wenz-], but recently CNN announcers have begun enunciating the /d/. Is “Wednesday” the new “forehead”?
    A few more centuries of such development, and English pronunciation will be as regular as that of Spanish.

  107. I was taught to pronounce the first syllable of “Wednesday” as [wenz-], but recently CNN announcers have begun enunciating the /d/.
    Horror! For some reason, although I’m philosophical about “normal” language change, I have a hard time dealing with this sort of thing.

  108. Noetica: do any Americans say “forrid” (standard in Australian, British, etc.) for forehead, or do they pretty well all say “fore+head”?
    It’s fore-head. The only clue I had about the other pronunciation was the old nursery rhyme “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead/ And when she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” In American English the poem doesn’t rhyme.
    “ADvertisement”
    But why say four whole syllables when you can just say “ad”? Life is short. In American we want to push a button and have everything work instantly. We have McDonald’s for fast food, and for fast language we’ve got contractions and “ads”.

  109. Stuart: The use of “stay” for “live”
    In standard English I would use “stay” to mean “live temporarily” or “sleep overnight” or “remain”.
    ~They stayed at a hotel.
    ~She’s
    staying with her sister until she can find an apartment.
    ~They never
    stayed in one place.
    For a permanent address we would use “live”.
    ~She
    lives on 87th street.
    ~She
    lives in Pilsen.
    I don’t know of anyone who has traced the African American speech patterns or even if they’re considered to be a dialect or a separate language “Ebonics”. A lot of it probably comes from the south as many blacks migrated north during the industrial revolution. Like everything else racial in this country, it’s probably controversial.
    The NZ examples sound more like rural midwest than African American. I thought it was just due to immigrants learning the language incompletely, though. Where is the common link between such distant areas?
    I have heard that in the Caribbean you can still find examples of 16th century English–Shakespearean speech…

  110. In standard English I would use “stay” to mean “live temporarily” or “sleep overnight” or “remain”…
    For a permanent address we would use “live”.

    This usage is standard NZ English, too. The distinction is not generally made in Maaori English, but I don’t know enough Maaori to know if there is a similarity with the Indian English “stay”, which appears to have been influenced by रहना “rehnaa”, which means both “stay” and “live” in the senses above.

  111. In standard English I would use “stay” to mean “live temporarily” or “sleep overnight” or “remain”…
    Chinglish invariably uses live for both. One “lives” in a hotel overnight. I cannot alter this linguistic behaviour of my Chinese friends, resort to what means I will. Now I just remind myself that Chinglish is a major variety of English with its own rather well-formed standard, and that it will soon have more proficient speakers than, say, Standard American has. It might already have more.

  112. Marie-Lucie:
    I am so charmed by ugye that I use it promiscuously. I urge its universal adoption, in fact. Some languages, like English, lack a felicitous and robust n’est-ce pas question-marker, but ugye can fill the bill admirably. A caution: it is pronounced roughly /OODyeh/ (with the /ood/ of wood).

  113. “Some languages, like English, lack a felicitous and robust n’est-ce pas question-marker”
    Indian English has already adopted “hai na” from Hindi for this purpose.

  114. Stuart, I may have posted this link before, but this
    http://teachernotebook.wordpress.com/
    has a bunch of links for ESL. In the right column the ‘English Links” has free websites with stuff like games for students (some better than others) and clicking on the “Resources” tab at the top has, about halfway down, some ESL links. I thought the Perdue Owl link looked especially promising–when you click on “ESL” you get a glossary of subjects–and it has some stuff about English for doing business with Indian firms as well.

  115. michael farris says:

    I’ve read that British “innit” (which I hate and despise and do not want infecting American speech) is basically a loan translation of ‘hai na’.
    Strangely I have never felt the need for a robust question marker of the ugye type in English.
    I do sometimes, however, feel the need for a better/more expressive system of diminutives in English but that’s another topic.
    Random info: Esperanto also has an ugye equivalent ‘chu ne?’ I don’t use it either.

  116. Thanks, Nijma. That peice on business writing for Indian English was very interesting.

  117. Stuart, good. It’s hard to find good stuff for tutoring. I ended up using the Murphy series even though it’s British English. Now I would probably look at the Success series because everyone wants to learn conversation.
    n’est-ce pas:
    in Spanish it’s ¿verdad? (pronounced roughly verthath, th as in “that”)
    I don’t use it much even though I teach mostly in Spanish, maybe because I’m just translating from English.

  118. Crown, AJP says:

    In Norwegian it’s ikke sant?, but I’m switching to ugye.
    The great thing about ‘innit’, that I love, innit? is that it’s only (or, at least, often) used in completely grammatically inappropriate places. It’s an anarchist’s n’est pas.

  119. marie-lucie says:

    a felicitous and robust n’est-ce pas question-marker
    Certainly, n’est-ce pas? is far easier to use than the extremely complicated English system with its obligatory reversal of positive to negative and vice-versa, apart from other complications with the auxiliaries. But to me, n’est-ce pas? does not sound particularly felicitous or robust. When I was a child I found it very pretentious of adults to use it (no child I knew would ever have said it except in mocking formal adult speech). My Parisian grandmother (that is my other grandmother) used just pas? (which perhaps would have sounded low-class to some people). Many people use just non? (and there are probably other ways now to avoid n’est-ce pas?). So go for ugye!

  120. Alan Graham says:

    “I was taught to pronounce the first syllable of “Wednesday” as [wenz-], but recently CNN announcers have begun enunciating the /d/.”

    Horror! For some reason, although I’m philosophical about “normal” language change, I have a hard time dealing with this sort of thing.

    Well, I’ve always pronounced it [wedn'zday]. I think that’s quite common (normal, perhaps) in Scotland.

  121. Marie-Lucie:
    I agree that n’est-ce pas is itself not optimal. Hard to type in, awkward-looking on the screen or page, dysphonious to many ears. I welcome your endorsement of ugye, and Crown’s also.
    The campaign progresses.

  122. I think that’s quite common (normal, perhaps) in Scotland.
    Well, that’s fine. It’s funny, I don’t mind it at all if it’a an inherited pronunciation, but the idea that someone’s deliberately pronouncing it as it’s spelled (and, in my indignant imagination, sneering at other people for “lazy” or “sloppy” or “ignorant” pronunciation) gives me the heebie-jeebies.

  123. Wednesday–the idea that someone’s deliberately pronouncing it as it’s spelled gives me the heebie-jeebies.
    Absolutely.
    This week a student came to me asking how to pronounce the indefinite article “a”. I pronounce it more or less as a schwa. He said one of the teachers insisted the students pronounce it as a long ā. (The dictionary said ä as in about.) I remember as children when we discovered this word was spelled with the letter “a” we spent an entire afternoon thinking up new sentences to have an excuse to practice pronouncing it as ā. I don’t understand what this teacher was thinking of unless it was someone who knew they did not have good pronunciation and just assumed the long “ā” was more correct.
    The “wed-nez-day” pronunciation is something kids do when they’re learning how to spell. It’s as if to say “hey, I’m in with the in-crowd, I know the super secret unusual spelling of this word”. We did the same thing with com-for-table, maybe as a memory key for spelling more than anything else. This is only cool though if you’re a fifth grader. To hear an adult do it just sounds uneducated.

  124. Eimear Ní Mhéalóid says:

    Re -ing and so forth above; I can assure you, LH, that I work with a woman who says “brin” for bring. She’s from County Cavan, as I am myself, and it’s a pronunciation common there and possibly in a wider area. I think only in words like “thing” and “sing” where a corresponding -in word already exists, would she use the other pronunciation.

  125. Well, I’ll be damned. Thanks—you’ve expanded my idea of how widely English pronunciation can vary.

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