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Pronunciation

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Alexander Howard
1264350.  Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:33 am Reply with quote

I know if I post a topic on pronunciation and mispronunciation it'll just be a damp squid. (And the number of people who mispronounce 'pronunciation' of all things....)

The pages of Shakespeare can be disconcerting for the pronouncements of pronunciation pedants, and they show our current usage was once looked down upon:

Quote:
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer
than the staple of his argument. I abhor such
fanatical phantasimes, such insociable and
point-devise companions; such rackers of
orthography, as to speak dout, fine, when he should
say doubt; det, when he should pronounce debt,--d,
e, b, t, not d, e, t: he clepeth a calf, cauf;
half, hauf; neighbour vocatur nebor; neigh
abbreviated ne. This is abhominable,--which he
would call abbominable: it insinuateth me of
insanie: anne intelligis, domine? to make frantic, lunatic.


Several years ago I came across a modest proposal on the web, which I cannot now find, to resolve the disconnection between English spelling and the pronunciation of the words: this was not to "rationalise" spelling but to rationalise pronunciation: in short, to pronounce words as they are written.

That is brilliant when you think of it: there is no single "correct" dialect in English, so why not devise a middle standard based on the written language? It would presumably sound like Georgie, or Scots - a pre-vowel-shift English, as Chaucer would have know it.

 
DVD Smith
1292407.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:34 am Reply with quote

"Peter Piper" of tongue-twister fame, was originally one of a whole cast of characters, one for each letter of the alphabet.

He first appeared in Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation, a book by John Harris first published in 1813. Each character got their own little tongue-twister.

The full list of characters are:

Andrew Airpump
Billy Button
Captain Crackskull
Davy Doldrum
Enoch Elkrig
Francis Fribble
Gaffer Gilpin
Humphrey Hunchback
Inigo Impey
Jumping Jackey
Kimbo Kemble
Lanky Lawrence
Matthew Mendlegs
Neddy Noodle
Oliver Oglethorpe
Peter Piper
Quixote Quicksight
Rory Rumpus
Sammy Smellie
Tip-toe Tommy
Uncle's Usher
Villiam Veedon
Walter Waddle

and...well he gave up for XYZ, instead writing the following final verse:
Quote:
X Y and Z have made my brains to crack-o:
X smokes, Y snuffs, and Z chews tobacco;
Yet oft by X Y Z much learning's taught,
But PETER PIPER, beats them all to naught.


Although to be honest he'd already given up by the time he got to V, which opens "Villiam Veedon viped his Vig and Vaistcoat".

The entire book can be read here - and includes stories of kettle-kicking, eggshell-eating, owl-ogling, mangled monkeys, walking wagers, catchpoll's cockscombs(?) and quizzing a queerish quidbox.


Last edited by DVD Smith on Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:13 am; edited 1 time in total

 
GuyBarry
1292411.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:46 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
I know if I post a topic on pronunciation and mispronunciation it'll just be a damp squid.


Surely that's a malapropism rather than a mispronunciation? People don't mispronounce the word "squib" as "squid"; they think the phrase actually is "damp squid", presumably because they've never heard the word "squib" in any other context.

(A squib is a type of firework that fizzles out when it gets damp, so the metaphorical use makes sense. A squid, on the other hand, is thoroughly accustomed to being damp because it lives in the water.)

 
Spud McLaren
1292437.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:25 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
(A squib is a type of firework that fizzles out when it gets damp, so the metaphorical use makes sense. A squid, on the other hand, is thoroughly accustomed to being damp because it lives in the water.)
But if that were the case, then a damp squib would be a damp damp firework. I'm fairly sure that a squib is just a banger, or firecracker if you prefer.

 
crissdee
1292440.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:07 am Reply with quote

ANY type of firework would surely fizzle out when it was damp, wouldn't it? Spud's definition seems more likely to me.

 
GuyBarry
1292458.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:38 pm Reply with quote

More likely than what? I don't see any disagreement here.

According to the COED, a squib is "a small firework that hisses before exploding". If it gets damp, it fizzles out. So do other fireworks. I suppose it would have been clearer if I'd written "a squib is a type of firework, which fizzles out when it gets damp" (to avoid the suggestion that some fireworks don't).

My point was that squids don't do anything unusual when they get damp.

 
Spud McLaren
1292484.  Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:27 pm Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:
Although to be honest he'd already given up by the time he got to V, which opens "Villiam Veedon viped his Vig and Vaistcoat".
Unorthodox spelling, I grant you. But didn't some areas of the country pronounce v as w around that time (I seem to remember the beadle does it in Oliver Twist)? The minor characters Gamfield and Duff certainly do.

 
suze
1292492.  Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:27 am Reply with quote

See also The Pickwick Papers, and the character Sam Weller, also known as Samivel.

The swapping around of /v/ and /w/ sounds is attested throughout the C18 and C19, especially in London. "Thus they call veal weal, vinegar winegar. On the other they call winter vinter, well vell", as the Irish elocutionist Thomas Sheridan (the father of R B Sheridan) put it.

Professor John Wells believes that this phenomenon can only narrowly have failed to survive into the era of recorded sound.

 
suze
1292597.  Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:45 am Reply with quote

An addition in real time: /v/ and /w/ swapping is alive and well in English as spoken in India!

The Indian commentator on Test Match Special referred a few minutes ago to Wirat (Kohli) sitting by the vindow until it was time for him to bat. As it happens, that time has come and Mr Kohli - who has hurt his back and is struggling a bit - is now batting.

 
tetsabb
1292610.  Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:06 pm Reply with quote

Could the C19 confusion of the two sounds also be a result of the influence of Yiddish speakers, especially in London, that Dickens would have been exposed to?

 
suze
1292634.  Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:36 pm Reply with quote

That explanation has been posited once or twice, but there are difficulties with it.

For a start, there were rather few Yiddish speakers in the London that Dickens knew. While the Polish and Russian Jews who came to London in the 1880s spoke Yiddish, most of the Jews in Dickens' London were Sephardic rather than Ashkenazi and spoke Ladino.

Yiddish phonology does not allow /w/ at the start of a syllable and replaces it with /v/, so that might explain vater and vindow, but not weal and winegar.


Hindi (Punjabi, Urdu) phonology has [v] and [w] as very-nearly-allophones. There is apparently one minimal pair - the words vrat and awrat mean different things - but otherwise the two sounds are in free variation.

So a Hindi speaker does not recognize vindow and window as being different, and when she learns English that difference is a thing that she finds tricky. Comparably, English speakers learning Chinese find it tricky to grasp that /p/ and /pʰ/ are distinctive in Chinese, and that /pɛn/ and /pʰɛn/ (which is in fact how English speakers pronounce the word pen) might mean entirely different things.

 
DVD Smith
1292675.  Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:25 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
An addition in real time: /v/ and /w/ swapping is alive and well in English as spoken in India!

The Indian commentator on Test Match Special referred a few minutes ago to Wirat (Kohli) sitting by the vindow until it was time for him to bat. As it happens, that time has come and Mr Kohli - who has hurt his back and is struggling a bit - is now batting.


That explains why Navid from Still Game said "here are your vages from last veek" and similar. I had no idea it was an Indian trait as well.

 

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