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Euouae

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suze
79429.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:09 am Reply with quote

Euouae is a musical term. Apparently it refers to a chord progression found in some mediaeval Church music, but it is not a word in common use.

Its supposed claim to fame is that it is the only word in English to consists solely of six vowels. Except that it isn't. For a start, it's a contrived word (it was formed by taking the vowels from the Latin expression seculorum amen). It isn't in common use and isn't in all the dictionaries. And those dictionaries in which it does appear generally include Aiouea (a genus of laurel plant) as well - I think that word is probably drawn from Hawaiian but I can't find a citation for that.

Also containing six consecutive vowels is Diooeae (a sort of cycad). None of these is in common use or is really a "proper English word" - whatever one of these may be. There are "proper English words" containing five consecutive vowels, notably queueing.


Now to the question I was asked, which was about consonants. The OED includes Hirschsprung's disease (an illness) and schtschi (the German spelling of a cabbage soup eaten in Poland and Russia; in Russian this word is ЩИ - only two letters) which both have seven consecutive consonants. There are "proper English words" with six consecutive consonants such as catchphrase and sightscreen.

Words containing only consonants are rather thin on the ground. There are those who claim things like ssshhhhhh as words - but these are spurious. Welsh words are sometimes posited, but examples such as crwth - a Welsh musical instrument - ignore the fact that "w" is a vowel in Welsh. Similarly, rhythms doesn't have any of the mainstream vowels in, but the "y"is a vowel there.

Things like DJ and Mrs are written without vowels, but gain some in pronunciation. Hebrew is generally written without vowels at all, but again they appear in pronunciation so don't give me things like Yhwh.

I'd probably accept psst as a four letter word without a vowel, and I'd be surprised if there is a longer one.

 
suze
79430.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:32 am Reply with quote

Having written the post above, I went back to the previous one and noted that Gaazy has provided two links to related previous discussions.

Just quickly then.

The discussion starting at post 9787

appears to have been started by a person who can't spell his own name, and he's totally wrong about Cherokee and Basque. Some First Nations languages don't have many vowels - Inuktitut has only three, as indeed does Arabic - but Cherokee has six. Abkhazian (spoken in some remote parts of Georgia and Turkey) has only two, as do a few languages of New Guinea.

The other discussion started at post 17914

was mainly about other languages, and included the splendid Estonian word jäääärne. Real live Estonians don't actually use this word much though - Google it and note that nearly everything that appears refers to sites about "strange words".

Well done eggshaped though, for spotting that Kyrgyzstan apparently starts with eight consonants. Gaazy's comment on this was entirely valid though - in Cyrillic it's Кыргызстан, and ы is a vowel much like "i", even though its conventional transliteration is "y".

 
samivel
79433.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:50 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The discussion starting at post 9787

appears to have been started by a person who can't spell his own name



To be fair, that may be because he/she wanted to get the name of the show into their name.

 
suze
79435.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:07 am Reply with quote

OK, samivel, good point - I hadn't thought of that! He's still wrong about Cherokee...

Another thing I would like to know if anyone can advise - how does one pronounce euouae? (Yoo-oh-ee seems reasonable, but I'm guessing.)

 
samivel
79437.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:23 am Reply with quote

Well, I bow to your greater knowledge in the case of Cherokee.
(And much else besides, I should think)



Quote:
I'd probably accept psst as a four letter word without a vowel, and I'd be surprised if there is a longer one.



'Brrrr' is in the OED as an interjection indicative of shivering and/or cold.

 
suze
79445.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:14 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
(And much else besides, I should think)


I doubt it. Indigenous languages of North America, probably. But not much else, I wouldn't have thought!

samivel wrote:
"Brrrr" is in the OED as an interjection indicative of shivering and/or cold.


Damn so it is! I'm not sure I would have spelled it with the quadruple "r", but they have the citations so there we are.

Well done that man!

 
auguste
79447.  Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:19 am Reply with quote

I seem to have caused this irritable vowel syndrome by erroneously identifying euouae as the longest word consisiting solely of vowels. I'm not the only one afflicted with this misapprehension: many other sources, including the Guinness Book of Records, make the same claim; Suze's challenge is quite right, though- the word 'euouae' was formed by taking the final six vowels from the doxology 'Gloria Patri', and isn't really a word proper anyway. Suze lists some other interesting words. To her examples of vowel-heavy words I can add syzygy ("the combining of two feet into a single metrical unit in classical prosody", and also something to do with celestial orbits), but there, as is so often the case, 'y' is really being used as a vowel. I'm afraid that I can't bring myself to accept onomatopoeic approximations such as 'Psst!' or 'Ssshhh!' as words, either.

 
Gray
79693.  Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:22 am Reply with quote

I rather think that 'Mmmmmmmm...' should be in there too because it's in very common usage (down our way). It's also one of the only words with a variable number of identical letters in the middle of it.

The definition would be "Interjectorial prefix to sotto-voce naming of imagined object of usu. gastronomical passion and veneration." Usage esp. Homer Simpson. The number of 'm's in the middle is proportional to the gustatorial reverence accorded to the object in question.

 
mckeonj
79718.  Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:36 pm Reply with quote

If sol-fa is a genuine word, then euouae must be admitted a word by the same token; both are musical terms derived from a sequence of Latin syllables; sol-fa from ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, te, do; the words to a well known hymn called (I think) Ut quaent laetis.

 
Gaazy
80005.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:02 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
If sol-fa is a genuine word, then euouae must be admitted a word by the same token; both are musical terms derived from a sequence of Latin syllables; sol-fa from ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, te, do; the words to a well known hymn called (I think) Ut quaent laetis.

Ut queant laxis, to be precise.

Wiki explains it concisely:

Quote:
Ut queant laxis or Hymnus in Ioannem is a plainchant hymn to John the Baptist written by Paulus Diaconus, the 8th century Lombard historian.

It is notable in that each of the first six musical phrases of the first stanza of the hymn begins on a successively higher note of the hexachord. The first syllable of each hemistich (half line of verse) has given its name to a successive note, since these syllables coincide with the ascending note pattern. The last line, Sancte Ioannes, breaks the ascending pattern (for musical rather than pedagogic reasons) and begins with the note previously sung to "sol".

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti labii reatum,
Sancte Ioannes.


Ut is now mostly replaced by Do.

The seventh note was not part of the medieval hexachord and does not occur in this melody, and it was originally called "si" from Sancte Ioannes, but was later renamed "ti" later to allow each name to start with a different letter.

 
samivel
80007.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:15 am Reply with quote

Gaazy wrote:
Quote:
Ut is now mostly replaced by Do.




Anyone know why this should be?

 
Gaazy
80010.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:46 am Reply with quote

Most probably so that it would be, like the other note-names, a consonant followed by a vowel.

The 'o' sound is also more open than the 'u' and therefore more singable.

It is said, but I have no citation for this, that the choice of 'do' was influenced by the word Dominus (Lord).

 
Gaazy
80011.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:00 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
There are "proper English words" with six consecutive consonants such as catchphrase and sightscreen.

I find it QI that many speakers of English insert an extra consonant when certain vowels come together (law rand order etc.), but don't have a problem with long agglomerations of consonants.

'Catchphrase' may have six consecutive consonants, but only three consecutive consonantal sounds (tch, ph and r); a pair of words such as 'clasped frame' has five (s, p, d, f and r), and yet they don't present a problem in normal speech for native speakers.

I have a feeling, though, that first-language Italian speakers would stick a couple of schwas in there.

 
samivel
80030.  Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:49 am Reply with quote

Gaazy wrote:
Most probably so that it would be, like the other note-names, a consonant followed by a vowel.

The 'o' sound is also more open than the 'u' and therefore more singable.

It is said, but I have no citation for this, that the choice of 'do' was influenced by the word Dominus (Lord).



Thank you.

 
Apollyoneum
452461.  Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:08 am Reply with quote

I still have no idea why or who changed the "ut re" beginning to "do re" (I initially investigated "utre" as a latin swearword!)

However during my research I came across work by Stewart Lyons who claims that far from having an origin in early Christian music the do-re-mi tune has it's origin in Horace's odes, which he discovered were originally set to music.

According to Mr Lyons the origin of the singing instruction method was covered up to prevent the monk from being declared a heretic. It obviously worked because he was transferred to the Vatican to teach there!

Either way I am going to celebrate Horace as the true originator of this song.
As horace would instruct: "Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!"

 

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