Can I AXE you a question?

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

  1. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    In my daily work I had come across many different people from many different places around the world but whenever they spoke they made mistakes at times but I knew what they meant so I just didn't say anything to them about their mispronunciation of words. If I got to know them better and knew they wanted to be helped I only then would let them know how to say whatever word they were saying wrong correctly. I've never ridiculed others for their speaking abilities because I screw up at times with my own language so that's just part of life.
     
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  3. kwhilborn Banned Banned

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    I agree Buddha. I also live in an environment (melting pot) where I am exposed to various incongruities in speech.

    I only help correct people in instances where they are trying to learn a correct way. The OP was directed at many, but I would not ridicule them to their faces.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That's not just different pronunciation (like skedjool vs. shedyool), it's different spelling (like center vs. centre). American English and British English are, after all, recognized as distinct and standard dialects.

    Americans often make fun of the British version by pronouncing it al-yoo-MIN-ee-um, but that's not how the Brits say it. It's al-yoo-MIN-yum. Four syllables, just like our version

    As I've noted before, English is a democratic language, not an authoritative one like French or Spanish, with their Academies ruling on which words are "proper" enough to be included in the dictionaries.

    If we have any institution of authority at all, it is the press. Once you see a word in print for about five years, then the battle is over. It's a word, and it will be in the next edition of the OED.

    This is how languages evolve. Would you like to pronounce the final E in take, fire, once and George, as they did in the 13th century? Or discuss software, WMDs, antibiotics or motorcycles in the language of Shakespeare--in which those words didn't exist? Or say light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation instead of "laser"?

    People change their language when they feel that they need a change. Some of those changes are simply frivolous and don't take hold. Others are regarded as "improper" for centuries, as people blithely continue to use them (like "ain't"). Others are adopted.

    Don't adopt a position that may put you on the wrong side of history.

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    "Rambunctious" and "absquatulate" are completely silly words that were made up in the Wild West about 150 years ago. The former is now in common use but the latter never caught on. Who could have predicted that?
     
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  7. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

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    Futurama lampshaded this with the preferred pronouciation of ask as AXE, of Xmas as EX-MASS.
    And I think the Simpsons introduced EDJAMACATION. // Edit: Perhaps not. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/edjamacation
     
  8. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Americans can't pronounce mirror.
     
  9. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

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  10. Enmos Staff Member

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    I know, but it just looks like the spellings of those mispronunciations.
    Perhaps Americans just have a very long history of mispronouncing the English language

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  11. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    R's are difficult for me I must admit, so do you have any advice for pronouncing mirror

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    You should hear me try to pronounce Puerto Rico or La Huerta in my best Spanish , my mouth turns into a pretzel

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  12. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Advice.
    Elocution teachers use the phrase "Round the rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran"
    Say it 10 times every morning.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This is a rare case where the British pronunciation is two syllables and ours is one. Usually it's the other way around.

    Actually Humphrey Davy originally coined it as alumium in 1808, from the French word alum, derived from Latin alumen, "bitter salt." He quickly changed it to aluminum. It was British editors who changed it to aluminium in 1812, to be consistent with the names of so many other elements like lithium, beryllium, sodium, potassium. (Nonetheless platinum, molybdenum and tantalum were already known so this is a weak and capricious argument.) Webster standardized this spelling in his zeal to differentiate American spelling from British (center/centre, color/colour, etc.). Both sides can claim that their spelling is more "authentic."

    You must live in the U.K. In America our R is completely different from the flapped R of Spanish. It is our intervocalic D and T, as in "matter" and "beta" that is equivalent to the British flapped R. "Liter" and "leader" are honomyms here. Our R is gargled, somewhat like the Danish R.

    That won't help very much with learning to pronounce an R in the middle of a word (carrot), at the end of a word (bar), before another consonant (gorgeous) or after one (bread). The half-swallowed American R is almost unique and is difficult to master.
     
  14. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    I disagree. I think that it will be extremely helpful.
    Don't listen to him Quinnsong.
    All Americans should say it every morning,
    so that they can speak properly.

    Any person that says nyookyoolerr for nuclear should get a life sentence, hard labour.
    Anyone that says axe for ask will probably end up in prison anyway.
     
  15. Enmos Staff Member

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    Whoops..

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  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm certainly in favor of people learning to properly speak the language of the country in which they live, whether it's English or Estonian, whether it's their first language or their fourth. Nonetheless I'm baffled by the assertion that Americans need help pronouncing R. I've never met a native-born American (without a speech impediment) of any ancestry, region, educational level or social group who had any problem pronouncing an initial R correctly.

    Perhaps you're British and bemoaning the fact that we simply don't flap our R's like you do? There are still a few people in Boston who speak that way, if you're wondering where to take your next vacation. And of course along our southwestern and southeastern borders you'll encounter many people with Mexican or Cuban accents who flap their Rs as in Spanish.

    Or maybe you've been watching too many Bugs Bunny cartoons and you're fed up with Elmer Fudd saying, "Wound the wugged wocks the wagged wascals wan."

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    I would give Jimmy Carter a full pardon. He's been doing a lot of good work after leaving the White House. The Carter Center has almost ended the debilitating epidemic of Guinea worm disease in Africa, reducing the number of cases from 3.5 million to a few hundred in three decades.

    As for Bush, there are many stronger reasons for putting him in prison. Although the punishment should really go to the handlers who put him up for election, concealing the knowledge that he was in the early stages of dementia.

    Since that's most commonly heard in AAVE (African-American Vernacular English or "Ebonics"), I'd be careful to avoid statements that might be misinterpreted.
     
  17. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Ax is Old English, from Acsian.
    Perhaps someone else has already mentioned this.

    ask (v.)
    Old English ascian "ask, call for an answer; make a request," from earlier ahsian, from Proto-Germanic *aiskojan (cf. Old Saxon escon, Old Frisian askia "request, demand, ask," Middle Dutch eiscen, Dutch eisen "to ask, demand," Old High German eiscon "to ask (a question)," German heischen "to ask, demand"), from PIE *ais- "to wish, desire" (cf. Sanskrit icchati "seeks, desires," Armenian aic "investigation," Old Church Slavonic iskati "to seek," Lithuanian ieškau "to seek").

    Form in English influenced by a Scandinavian form of the word (cf. Danish æske; the Old English would have evolved by normal sound changes into ash, esh, which was a Midlands and s.w. England dialect form). Modern dialectal ax is as old as Old English acsian and was an accepted literary variant until c.1600. Related: Asked; asking. Old English also had fregnan/frignan which carried more directly the sense of "question, inquire," and is from PIE root *prek-, the common source of words for "ask" in most Indo-European languages (see pray). If you ask me "in my opinion" is attested from 1910. Asking price is attested from 1755.


    http://etymonline.com/?term=ask

    Not all people who say ax will end up in prison, that I grant you,
    however, they are statistically more likely to be axecuted than Americans who do not say Ax.

    Note that President Obama sometimes says ax, sometimes not.

    [video=youtube;rEroGys1bSs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEroGys1bSs[/video]

    The poster, on youtube, is implying that the usage of ax indicates ignorance.
    And undermines that argument by showing Obama using it.
    Even his greatest detractors wouldn't call Obama ignorant or stupid.
     
  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Regarding Aluminum/Aluminium
    Prior to 1925, people in USA used the word Aluminium as well as Aluminum.
    Then the American Chemical society had a debate on the subject and decided on Aluminum.


    You might find this interesting.
    ..............Hall-Héroult process. This discovery,
    occurring almost simultaneously in America and Europe, jump-started the production and use of
    aluminum in industrial settings by reducing the cost of production by more than 90%. Prior to the
    Hall-Héroult process, producing aluminum was costly and relatively difficult; aluminum was
    considered a semi-precious metal, worthy of display in bar form at the 1855 Paris Exhibition.

    http://www.oberlinheritage.org/cms/files/File/Hall Walking Tour Updated 2-16-2011.pdf
     
  19. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    "Scotch". Oh dear.
    Scottish pedants' sporrans will be a-bristling in the heather.
    Scotch is the drink, not the nationality.


    Perhaps ax/ask is a judicial Shibboleth.
    Say "ax", and you are a candidate for death row.
    On the other hand, say "ask", and you are some kid who needs a hand-up.
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Many English words are of Norse origin. After the Roman legions left when their empire collapsed, first there was an invasion and occupation by Germans (Angles, Saxons, Jutes, etc.) into the southern part of Britannia, but then there was a huge invasion of Norsemen into the northern part. They did not conquer, occupy, marginalize or crowd out the new Germanic population, but their influence on our language is immense. Examples of words of Norse origin: again, awkward, birth, both, cake, come, dregs, eat, fellow, fog, freckles, gasp, go, get, give, landing, law, listen, moss, neck, ransack, root, score, scowl, seat, sister, sit, skin, skirt, sky, sly, smile, take, want, weak, window. Even the pronoun "they/them"!

    In German, "ask" is fragen.

    Interesting. He was raised in Hawaii as a haole (any outsider who is not Polynesian or East Asian) by a Euro-American mother and was never introduced to an Afro-American community, much less exposed to African-American Vernacular English. His father was African, not Afro-American, and the time he spent with his father was in Kenya, not in an Afro-American community. There's no way he could have learned the pronunciation "axe" in his formative years!

    I have often suggested that Obama chose to identify with the Afro-American community in his young adulthood in order to be a "big fish in a small pond." The pronunciation "axe" was probably an affectation to fit in.

    Interesting. Spanish was a mandatory class in the 7th grade in Arizona in the 1950s, so I was fortunate enough to start learning when I was still just barely young enough to master the phonetics. I've always been told that my accent is perfect. Unfortunately the one thing I never mastered was the delivery rate. Spanish is spoken much faster than American English and I just can't get my speech organs to move that fast. And the way the vowel at the end of one word merges into the one at the beginning of the next word has never become automatic, so I will always sound like a foreigner. I do much better with Chinese, which is spoken more slowly than English--and words are kept quite separate.

    As you've already been told, "Scotch" is a word for whiskey and a few odds and ends like Scotch broom. The people are Scots or Scottish.

    There was an enormous migration of Scots-Irish people from Northern Ireland in the mid- and late 19th century due to the political and religious violence in that region, where Scottish Protestants had settled. During the many violent battles the Protestants identified themselves with red kerchiefs around their necks, and this is one suggested origin for the name "Redneck." They settled in Appalachia and at first were firmly Northern in their culture and politics, but as time progressed they adopted Southern ways and spread out into the former Confederacy. The Presbyterian community in the South still has a lot of old Scots-Irish families.

    The original "Southern accent" (at least in large part of the region) was indeed non-rhotic. I have a friend in Virginia whose 86-year-old father (born in Richmond) speaks that way. Accent is the most ephemeral attribute of language.

    I don't know how old you are, but anyone born during or after WWII was raised as much by radio and TV as by their parents. We grew up hearing the hybrid Hollywood-Manhattan accent of the network announcers and the actors, which is now Standard American English. This is just as true in other countries, although it didn't start quite as early. Germany was the first example, a generation earlier: Hitler recognized the power of radio and used it very effectively to indoctrinate his people and win them over.
     
  22. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Odd you should say that. I think that's true.
    My TV "parents" were Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke, both Americans.
    I still have an affection for the US, despite recent history.
     
  23. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Some of these would be correct, or at least unremarkable, in the UK.
    I don't remember ever hearing someone pronounce February with the "r"
    or Parliament with the "i".
    Do you pronounce the c in scissors, and the hard g in king too?
     

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