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Old 11-29-2008, 11:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
/nɑndəsˈkrɪpt/
 
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Confusing pronunciation

I've been racking my brain about some American English pronunciations. I really don't understand the logic...

Why is "colonel" pronounced like "kernel"? There's no R in that word. I don't see how you can get that pronunciation out of those letters.

And why is "corps" pronounced like "core" and not "corpse"? What happened to the R and the S?
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Old 11-30-2008, 12:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey, it could be worse. We could be French.
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Old 11-30-2008, 01:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It’s a messy story, the result of a confusion between two forms of the word that came into English at different times. Its source is the Italian "colonna". This, and and the English word "column" with the same meaning, derive from the Latin "columna", because a column of men was reminiscent of the shape of a pillar. There was an phrase in Italian, "compagna colonnella", literally the “little-column company”, which referred to the small company of soldiers that marched at the head of a regiment and which was commanded directly by the officer in charge. So that officer became known as the "colonnello", the leader of the little column. This shifted into French as "coronel" but later changed back nearer the Italian original as "colonel". Much the same thing happened in English, where coronel was the more common form up to about 1630. For a while after this date both forms were in use until colonel eventually won. At first the word was pronounced as three syllables, but the middle became swallowed, and under the continuing influence of the “r” spelling the “l” in the first syllable vanished.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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What about lieutenant, which you Americans persist in stupidly calling "LOO-tenant", rather than the more obvious "lef-TEN-ant" that we have in England?

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"The Chaos".

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear sew it.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
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Old 11-30-2008, 05:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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how would lieutenant be obvious as lef-tenant? there is not F in it, and lieu its a word used often and pronounced LOO. If you tell some that in lieu of something do something else, do you pronounce it lef?
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Old 11-30-2008, 05:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaniFaye View Post
how would lieutenant be obvious as lef-tenant? there is not F in it, and lieu its a word used often and pronounced LOO. If you tell some that in lieu of something do something else, do you pronounce it lef?
Our pronunciation is closer to the original source of the word (francophone i believe), whereas you yanks just read it as is.
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Old 11-30-2008, 07:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevie667 View Post
Our pronunciation is closer to the original source of the word (francophone i believe), whereas you yanks just read it as is.
french pronounce it the way it looks. Li-huh-t'nan...lieutenant.
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Old 11-30-2008, 07:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The key thing to remember is that English is a language of many sources.

Up to 50% of our lexicon is derived from French, thanks in large part to the Normans. The rest of our modern lexicographic and syntactic makeup has roots in Anglo-Saxon (Old English), Latin, and Scandinavian language. In the Middle Ages, it was far more fragmented and actively mixed, but as things became more homogenized, the language came to be known as Middle English, then Elizabethan English, then Modern English. As the language progressed, it became less evident where the words and structure came from. This is why most of us are impressed to find out that we use far more French than we think...or, at least, anglicized forms of French. For example, anytime you use a word ending in -tion/-sion, -ence/-ance, or -tive, it will most likely be a word derived pretty much directly from French, if not from Latin through (Old) French.

Given this as the source of our language, it should come as no surprise that there are some rather interesting inconsistencies, many of which go beyond pronunciation. Ask anyone who has learned English as a second language and they will probably tell you they had their moments that caused them to scratch their heads.

Things then get really confusing when you look at the language's regional differences.
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Old 11-30-2008, 09:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaniFaye View Post
how would lieutenant be obvious as lef-tenant? there is not F in it, and lieu its a word used often and pronounced LOO. If you tell some that in lieu of something do something else, do you pronounce it lef?
I was making fun of my own country's usage - it never made sense to me

I have an overactive sarcasm gland.
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Overhead, the Albatross hangs motionless upon the air,
And deep beneath the rolling waves,
In labyrinths of Coral Caves,
The Echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand;
And everthing is Green and Submarine

╚═════════════════════════════════════════╝
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Old 11-30-2008, 09:59 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This thread makes me laff. But not lau-guh.
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince View Post
And why is "corps" pronounced like "core" and not "corpse"? What happened to the R and the S?
It's a french word, and one of the only french words to be the french way, IMO.
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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My dark secret: I phonetically pronounce common words (especially Spanish ones that have entered the English lexicon) for my own amusement. Examples: Right, knife (three syllables), Wednesday...etc, and also quesadilla, fajita, tortilla. Oh, and Tucson, definitely Tucson.
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Old 12-14-2008, 06:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Even the thread starter had his own misgivings in the heading, exactly what is it, "pronounciation" or "pronunciation"??

And one more thing....


Last edited by Xerxys; 12-21-2008 at 11:10 AM..
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:22 AM   #14 (permalink)
/nɑndəsˈkrɪpt/
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxys View Post
Even the thread starter had his own misgivings in the heading, exactly what is it, "pronounciation" or "pronunciation"??
No misgivings here, sorry. It's spelled "pronunciation". There is no extra o in there, that's only in the verb "pronounce".
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Old 12-15-2008, 08:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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daughter, laughter
tomb, comb, bomb
through, bough, dough

and how would you pronounce "ghoti"?




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