Archive for the ‘Accent’ Category

sharp, sour

November 8, 2017

My morning name from a few weeks ago was the technical term oxytone. From NOAD2:

adj. oxytone: (especially in ancient Greek) having an acute accent on the last syllable.

with an etymology < Gk. ὀξύτονος, oxýtonos, ‘sharp-sounding’. with the first of our ‘sharp’ elements in modern English: OXY, oxy– (from Greek) or oxi– (from Latin).

As a prosodic term in Greek, it’s part of the set:

oxytone – paroxytone – proparoxytone

corresponding to the more familiar Latin terms:

ultimate – penultimate – antepenultimate

— that is,

final, last – next to last, second from the end – third from the end

OXY is familiar from the rhetorical term oxymoron < Gk. ὀξύς oksús ‘sharp, keen, pointed’ + μωρός mōros ‘dull, stupid, foolish’ — as it were, ‘sharp-dull’, referring to apparently contradictory combinations of expressions.

But wait, there’s more!

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the Ving N

August 9, 2016

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with language play in honor of the Olympics:

V-PRP + N can be understood in several ways, sometimes subtly different, but potentially distinguished by accent pattern and often associated with ambiguities in the V. As with the opening ceremony here, with (roughly) the Olympic Interpretation ‘ceremony in which an event opens, that is, begins’ (with primary accent on ceremony) vs. the Can Interpretation ‘ceremony in which the top of something is removed to get at its contents’ (with primary accent on opening).
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Familiarity

October 24, 2014

Yesterday’s One Big Happy, in which Ruthie goes (as usual) with the familiar over the novel:

(#1)

Stovepipe hat (an unfamiliar expression for Ruthie) is transformed in Ruthie’s ears into Stove Top Stuffing, a familiar expression in her world (context is crucial!), even though the two are pretty distant phonologically (very imperfect as a pun).

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