Archive for the ‘Pronunciation’ Category

That’s a moray

October 17, 2015

Yesterday I posted about (among other things) the song “That’s Amore”, as made famous by Dean Martin. Immediately friends began providing plays on the title: That’s a Moray”. Eels! It turns out that there is a small industry in this bit of linguistic playfulness. On to the parodies, and then some words about morays.


Anglicizing German

April 18, 2015

Following my posting on the sandwich issue of the NYT Food section, a Facebook discussion sprung up about the sandwich beef on weck; what, people wondered, was weck? The answer is partly about food, and partly about the German and English languages.



March 22, 2015

In yesterday’s NYT, a piece by Patrick Healy, “For 2016 Run, Scott Walker Washes ‘Wiscahnsin’ Out of His Mouth”, beginning:

Columbia, S.C. — Out on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Scott Walker has left “Wiscahnsin” back home in Wisconsin. He now wants to strengthen the economy, not the “ecahnahmy.” And while he once had the “ahnor” of meeting fellow Republicans, he told one group here this week that he simply enjoyed “talkin’ with y’all.”

The classic Upper Midwest accent — nasal and full of flat a’s — is one of several Walker trademarks to have fallen away this month after an intense period of strategizing and coaching designed to help Mr. Walker capitalize on his popularity in early polls and show that he is not some provincial politician out of his depth.

Although Healy leads with pronunciation matters, they are not the focus of the piece, which is about how Walker is being coached in general on ways to make himself attractive to a wide range of voters.

Now on the main dialect feature in question, the Upper Midwest “flat a”.


Briefly: Michael Gazzaniga

March 19, 2015

On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, an announcement that Michael Gazzaniga (the psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist) would be the guest on this morning’s Forum show on KQED. The man’s name was pronounced

/ gàzǝnígǝ /

which is what you’d get if you took the pronunciation of the name in Italian and nativized it to English phonology. But in fact the man’s name is pronounced (in English)

/ gǝzǽnɪgǝ /

which is what you get from the spelling.

(I’m listening to the interview right now.)

The perils of trying to get things right.

Local pronunciations

February 28, 2015

Two notes on the pronunciation of proper names: on the city of Bangor ME and on the actor Ryan Phillippe.



February 25, 2015

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

Presumably Hilary Price’s intention was that the spelling FRAUG, pronounced [frɔ:ɡ], should represent a combination of FROG — pronounced [frɑ:ɡ] or [frɔ:ɡ], depending on your variety of American English — and FRAUD, pronounced [frɔ:d] for many American speakers, but [frɑ:d] for American speakers who level [ɔ:] and [ɑ:] in favor of the latter (the “COT-CAUGHT merger”: both these words are pronounced [kɑ:t], DAWN and DON are both [dɑ:n], and SHAW and SHAH are both [ʃɑ:]).

[Addendum: an earlier posting on frog and fraud has a Discover Card commercial that plays on a confusion between the two.]


February 23, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy, in which it turns out that Ruthie isn’t the only character who’s unsure about word meanings:

NOAD2 identifies gormless as informal and specifically British, so it’s no surprise that the adults don’t know what it means (though the appalling Avis takes it back to a putative noun stem gorm, which she treats as a mass noun (gormless ‘without gorm, lacking gorm’), though it could be a count noun (gormless ‘without gorms, lacking gorms’)).


Cartoonists at language play

October 29, 2014

Two recent examples of cartoonists playing with language: a Zippy with a cascade of rhyming invented names, and some outrageous puns by cartoonist Nina Paley. The Zippy:


This will lead us to some entertaining half-rhymes.

Then a t-shirt by cartoonist Nina Paley with an outrageous pun:


This will lead to another of Paley’s Jewish puns.



August 18, 2013

Two questions: How is the name of this foodstuff pronounced in English? Is it a grain?


Sconic sections

July 10, 2013

From several sources on the net, this entertaining story posted 6/25/13 on the Evil Mad Scientist site:

Play with your food: How to Make Sconic Sections

The conic sections are the four classic geometric curves that can occur at the intersection between a cone and a plane: the circle, ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola.

The scone is a classic single-serving quick bread that is often served with breakfast or tea.

And, at the intersection of the two, we present something entirely new, delightfully educational, and remarkably tasty: Sconic Sections.

Detailed instructions follow. The edges of the sections can be highlighted by jam, chocolate, or Nutella (as above).



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