Can I AXE you a question?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by kwhilborn, May 1, 2013.

  1. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    I do not know why but It drives me mad that everytime I see an American on a talk show they say "AXE" instead of "ASK".

    "Let me AXE you this....",


    A-S-K aaaaaasssssskkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

    I do not know why so many States seem to adopt this accent. You can see it from anything "Judge Judy", "Hell's Kitchen", "Oprah", "Ellen", or just about any talk show. I must admit many actors and actresses seem trained to avoid this error, but it still pops up on tv as well.

    Is English so difficult?

    It seems so commonplace that AXE should mean Ask in an American dictionary.
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  3. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    To be fair, if you goto the west country or up north in england, they do talk in a very strong accent that is hard for londoners to understand. So saying americans in some parts talk hard to understand english is not that correct as in england, there are parts too like that.
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    As opposed to the Brits who use such charmers as "wif" for "with" and "innit" for "isn't it?"

    Something about glass houses goes here...
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  7. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    The Irish language doesn't have a 'th' sound. So things like wif and Keef are quite common. As are expressions like half past tree (as opposed to three thirty). These pronunciations were passed down to their Liverpudlian descendants...
  8. Balerion Banned Banned

    Yet English does, and English folks use it as well.
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    the answer lies in your very next sentence:
  10. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    @ Balerion,
    For Glass houses to apply I would need to be British. I was hooked on phonics at a young age, and think the Canadian Education system is good enough to fail anybody who would say "innit" for "isn't it".

    I'm Canadian eh.
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    We all have our pete hates. My own bête noire is pronouncing "nuclear" as "nookular". Even the last US President did this!
  12. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Not real sure about the last one (Bush) although he certainly did have a problem with enunciation. However, I know Jimmy Carter did - and what's particularly funny about that is the fact he had been a navy reactor specialist!

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    Actually, it's not uncommon for individuals to be somewhat tongue-tied when trying to say certain words - but that's not the problem with "AXE" for "ask", that's just plain *lazy* speech and I don't like it either. Sort of sets my teeth on edge when I hear it.
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The combination SK a the end of a word is much more difficult to pronounce than KS. Measure your effort and the number of milliseconds for saying "task" instead of "tax," "desk" instead of "decks," "whisk" instead of "wicks," etc.

    Some of these mispronunciations were introduced by African slaves in the 19th century. The majority of them came from linguistic regions in which words only ended in vowels. So it was difficult enough for them to learn a word ending in one consonant. A word ending in two consonants was a Herculean challenge. Try pronouncing the Czech word vstup (entrance): your vocal apparatus has never been trained to produce those consonant clusters, and once you're past your tenth or fifteenth birthday, your muscles probably will never be able to bend that way. It was the same for these folks, but with the additional handicap that no one ever tried to teach them English, they just had to pick it up.

    We still hear many vestiges of that in AAVE (African-American Vernacular English, sometimes referred to as Ebonics). For example I hear people with university degrees say "bofe" for "both" and "toe" for "told," and not even realizing it's wrong. Many generations later, their ears are still not tuned to perceive the difference. To be sure, this is dying out, but slowly.

    English is a very difficult language by several measures. Phonetics probably tops the list. Our language has more phonemes (individual sound components such as B, SH, W) than most; many of them sound identical to speakers of other languages. Furthermore, the way we combine phonemes is a challenge. In Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Greek, Vietnamese, and may others, a word cannot end with either SK or KS.

    Don't give them any ideas. Snuck for sneaked and dove for dived are already in there as alternatives, and they gave up on buffalo for bison decades ago.

    The voiceless TH of "bath" and the voiced TH of "bathe" are very rare phonemes. Icelandic, Greek and Spanish are the only other European languages I know of that have it. Some languages of India do and a few in Africa.

    This is an example of metathesis, the rearrangement of sounds within a word, like comfterble for "comfortable." We have many words like "particular" and "spectacular," even "ocular" and "avcuncular," but how many words can you think of that end in -klee-ar?

    Take it from an amateur linguist, he did indeed consistently mispronounce "nuclear."

    Carter was born in 1924 and grew up before the word "nuclear" was part of the average citizen's vocabulary, and as I said, that -klee-ar ending is difficult to pronounce. But Bush was born in 1946; he's a few years younger than me. When he grew up the phrase "nuclear weapons" was in the news constantly. But yes, he does have a speech problem. It's part of the pre-senile dementia that makes it difficult for him to speak in complete sentences, remember how the "Fool me once..." aphorism goes, or figure out which country to bomb after we're attacked by terrorists primarily from Saudi Arabia.

    As I noted, the problem is much more complex than that. Cut the folks some slack.

    Compared to Chinese, Russian and many other languages, English is rather easy to learn to speak wrong and still be understood. But it's devilishly hard to learn to speak right.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    In my region "ax" is a class identifier, not just racial - you hear it from the lower class bluecollar whites, and not just economic but cultural class is involved - people who self-identify as rednecks and are other-identified as trailer trash.

    If you are hearing it from TV shows, you are hearing the show's intended audience identified.

    The matter is not, imho, simple laziness, but a particular form of effort rejection. That class reacts with hostility to the prospect of "correcting" their speech, dress, food, drink, recreational preferences, clothing, hairstyles, or anything else, based on any appearance of taking instruction from people not "one of them". They won't put a bit of effort into "improving" the way they talk, or pronouncing a word in some inconvenient or unfamiliar way, and will react with something approaching anger to any hint that such is in some way being imposed on them.

    I live near the town of Otsego (Aht-seego), for example, and many of the people I work with pronounce it "Ahsteego" or "Ahxeego" and will put no effort toward changing that. My last name has a ts in the middle and a couple of vowels in an uncommon order, and that will be modified in some way by almost everyone from that crowd - st, s only, x, will be substituted.

    Spanish is often spoken here; they convert Spanish words, including familiar names, to their standard pronunciations, and regard pressure toward anything else as disrespecting them and the way they talk.

    It's orneriness, not just inattention or laziness.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sure. But there are different reasons for different communities in different places.

    Many regional pronunciations are not regarded with quite so much hostility, yet they can sound just as silly. In some cases they can even impair comprehension.

    Everywhere I've lived up to now, the names Don and Dawn have two distinctly different vowels: "Don" is the A in "father" whereas "Dawn" is (ironically) the "O" in for. But here in the Washington DC region, many people have leveled them into an intermediate form that's halfway between the two--sort of like the British pronunciation of the O in "hot." In my company there's a man named Don and a woman named Dawn, and it causes considerable confusion.

    No one makes fun of these people even though we find their accents troublesome. No one makes fun of the people who pronounce the T in often, even though it's pretentious and silly.

    But we all make fun of people who pronounce "ask" as "axe," even though in the majority of cases it's neither deliberate or disrespectful, simply the way they were taught--or the way they heard it through the filter of their community's own phonetic paradigm.

    Back in Los Angeles, we make fun of Easterners who can't pronounce Spanish words. Yet we have one suburb named "El Monte" and another named "La Puente," whereas in fact both words have the opposite gender: it should be la monte ("the mountain") and el puente ("the bridge").

    "Nucular?" Okay, we can make fun of that.

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  16. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    I just want to put it on record that I don't hate Pete. I don't even dislike him.
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

  18. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    Bloody well said, what-ho! And Merkin too.
  19. jakebarrington Registered Member

    Here is a dictionary for me fellow citizens who have a difficult time deciphering the uneducated:

    Excape: Escape
    Expresso: Espresso
    Expecially: Especially
    Febuary: February
    Fedral: Federal
    Interpretate: Interpret
    Libary: Library
    Mannaise: Mayonnaise
    Miniture: Miniature
    Nuculer: Nuclear
    Parlament: Parliament
    Perscription: Prescription
    Sherbert: Sherbet

    I hope this helps. Feel free to print it out and use it as a reference during conversation.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There's nothing wrong with "fedral," "mannaise," "miniture," or "parlament." I've never heard anyone pronounce "miniature" with four complete syllables, or "parliament" with the YA diphthong. "Parlament" is the preferred pronunciation in, and "minnacher" is listed as acceptable.

    "Fedral" and "mannaise" are not in the dictionary but I've heard them both often.

    This is just elision, the simplification of a word by removing minor, unstressed phonemes without rendering it unrecognizable. It allows us to talk faster without machine-gunning our syllables, giving us a tremendous advantage over, for example, the Italians and Japanese.

    Where do you live that people talk so formally?
  21. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    Of those I do pronounce Parliament, Parlament. I do use 4 syllables when pronouncing Miniature. I live North of Toronto, Canada. Perhaps it is because there is many 2nd language citizens here that we speak properly. I don't think I have ever heard of "Minature Golf" or anyone speaking so oddly, but can see it based on how some say Axe instead of ask.

    If anything I am guilty of too much phonetics and still have said sword instead of the sord pronouncing the w.

    I do think Axe and Ask both require approximately the same amount of time to speak so I cannot see the advantage here.
  22. Enmos Registered Senior Member

    How about this:

    American: Aluminum
    British: Aluminium

  23. jakebarrington Registered Member

    Commonly pronounced doesn't make something correct. I will admit I commonly mispronounce those words, but it's still incorrect. Also, "acceptable" and correct are different. I live in Vermont.

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