EYE-rock? EE-rock? ...

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Baron Max, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes, they do seem to have a very hard time mastering our vowels. We pronounce almost every one differently. Their "call" sounds like our "coal," except it's not a diphthong. To compensate they tend to pick a regional dialect (such as the Texan you mention) and exaggerate it without really getting it quite right, so it doesn't even sound like us Yankees when we imitate Southerners. Even the Aussie and Canadian faux-country/western singers do better than that. ^_^ Monty Python liked to do American sports jock dialect and it sounded pretty silly coming from a business executive. For American women, they always picked Dustin Hoffman's "Tootsie," a case study in a man mastering feminine patterns and only coming up with a parody of them. I wonder if our actors sound just as silly to them when they try to do British accents.
    That's our secret, the Melting Pot. I suspect it's only the last couple of generations of British people who have everyday contact with peers who speak with foreign accents. We hear phonemes that aren't part of our paradigm all the time and our brains absorb them. So when we want to pronounce one it's already in there and only our vocal apparatus has to adapt.
    It's really complicated and I don't fully understand it. But if you understand that biological sex is only a subset of grammatical gender, you'll be on your way to making peace with it. Remember that Indo-European also had a neuter gender, which survived into Latin, Greek, proto-Germanic, and old Slavonic (and I don't really know about the other nodes on the family tree like Sanskrit and proto-Celtic). German, Modern Greek, the Slavic languages and Romanian (unique among the Romance languages because of the influence from Slavonic) still have it (and I don't know about the Indo-Iranian, Celtic, Baltic, Albanian, Armenian, etc. descendants). When you realize that there are three grammatical genders, it puts the biological aspect into a better perspective. I suppose it was natural for our Mesolithic ancestors to assign male and female animals consistently to two of those three genders but I'm unaware of any theories as to how or why it happened in that particular way. BTW gender is by no means universal among non-Indo-European languages. And in addtion to English, I believe the Scandinavian languages have lost it and perhaps for the most part even Dutch, leaving German and its cousin Yiddish alone in our branch of the family in their retention of it.
    That's just a schwa, the indistinct neutral vowel into which unaccented vowels degenerate in many languages including German and French. It's the name of a Hebrew vowel which has become silent in the modern language (the nearly universal ultimate fate of the schwa), which was resurrected artificially from the liturgical pronunciation of many generations of Jews whose primary language was something else.
    That's a northeastern American dialect pronunciation. Most of us speak an idiolect comprised of bits and pieces of the dialects we've been exposed to. My wife lived with a British girl in her late teens and 35 years later she still talks about "hoovering" the carpet instead of "vacuuming" it. Americans think that's a rather cute Britishism so that has reinforced her unconscious tendency to hang onto it.
    I wasn't born there but I lived there since my freshman year in college. With my combination of Chicago and Arizona speech I did not notice any "accent" in L.A. but I now notice Chicago and Arizona dialect pronunciation so I obviously adopted it. I have the same experience. No matter where I go in the U.S., no one has ever commented on my accent. A good part of the reason for that, of course, is Hollywood. Newscasters in Boston, Newark, Atlanta and Dallas sound more like the Angeleños in their network offices every day (curiously not like the equally influential-in-other-matters Manhattanites) so the people in those cities are accustomed to hearing it. The same thing is happening on a much larger canvas in hispanophonic Latin America. As the casts of TV shows produced in every country are increasingly multinational, they have standardized on the speech of Mexico as "neutral." They even send them to dialect schools so that soap opera families don't sound like Papá is Argentine but los niños are somehow from Honduras and Venezuela.
     
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  3. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    No, you kicked the english out so now you're just a bunch of people who can't spell or pronounce anything correctly.



    Who says "litchrulee"? People in Britain mostly use the glottle stop when pronouncing that word. I have never heard anyone say "lichrulee".
     
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  5. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    Whatever he said I'm sure it was better than Keanu Reeves in Dracula....
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
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  7. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Ha! Reminds me of this:

    "Why should the people follow you?" "Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent."
    - Men in Tights
     
  8. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    Grrrr, Kevin Costner

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  9. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    His flat tones and unchanging visage throughout the movie were so inspirational!

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  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No one ever played the role like George Hamilton in "Love at First Bite." Communist Party bureaucrats, finally succeeding where generations of peasants with torches and pitchforks had failed, came to nationalize his castle.

    Susan St. James: "Want to come up to my place? I've got a bottle of really nice wine from Bordeaux, and some pretty good shit from Colombia."

    George Hamilton, with his best faux-Romanian accent: "I do not drrrink... vine."

    Pause.

    "And I do not smoke... shit."
     
  11. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

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    I just heard something funny. It was a documentary about volcanoes, and the British guy who was talking was concerned about an increase in geyser activity in Yellowstone National Park. Now, here in the US, that word is pronounced GUY-zer. This fellow pronounced it GEE-zer. Ah, in the US, a "geezer" is a cranky old man. Lousy senior citizens!

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  12. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Says who? You? The guy who's not English? A non-English guy has the authority to say who's speaking English and who isn't?

    Some British people.

    Then you're listening to the wrong people. I hear it all the time. Maybe you're only hearing some local dialect and not, you know, "the" English language you claim is so correct.

    Which reminds me: What of Cockney accents? And Yorkshire? Cumbrian? Lancashire? Geordie? After all, they're all English too. Or are you talking about the Received Pronunciation, a variety of English that's only spoken by five percent of British people?
     
  13. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    In the "UK" a "geezer" is slang for a man. As in "That geezer's 'avin a larf."

    Do you all still pronounce "buoy" as "boo-ey"?
     
  14. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    No, the english do. Please try to keep up.



    Not as far as I've heard, and, well, I live there.

    I live here. I am sure my exposure to British dialects is a lot higher than yours.

    I'm talking about the people who write the dictionaries. It's fairly well acknowledged that anyone with a "local" dialect, or even an "accent" in most cases (and yes, that includes yank accents) can't speak their own language properly. I know a Brazilian who writes english better than most english people can, but that doesn't change anything.
     
  15. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I wanna add: Do you think you're more authoritative, or know more, than Wikipedia? Because I've just done some reading, and this is what I found:

     
  16. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I've never heard an authority based in England say that their variety of English is more right than ours. This was my point. You're falling behind, not I. Care to point me to someone who has indeed said this?

    And this is why I don't believe you when you say no one says "lit'rally".

    http://www.m-w.com/
    http://www.answers.com/
    http://dictionary.reference.com/

    You mean dictionaries like these?

    Also, Merriam Webster lists /'li-tr&-lE/ as a variant pronunciation of "literally". Count the syllables.

    Says who? Care to show me? Or is this just you talking?

    That's also irrelevant.
     
  17. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    What's the language called again? Is it called "anyoneglish"?
     
  18. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    I said no one says "lichrully" which is what you were talking about.


    We were discussing within Britain or england, can't remember which. Those are all just yank propaganda. Trying to make the world spell and pronounce everything wrong, tsk tsk.

    Uh huh....where does it mention "lichrully"?



    Anyway back to that other question, how do you pronounce "buoy"? What about "aluminium"?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  19. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Fraggle, a little help knocking some sense into this guy (or into me if I'm wrong after all), please?

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    This is irrelevant too. Like Wikipedia said, there is no one clear official standard for the English language. You're just repeating the same old false statements and pretending that they logically refute my arguments. Come up with authoritative statements, like I did, and I will start considering your position.

    No, you said that no one reduces "literally" to three syllables, which I was able to prove false.

    Also, that is "lichrully".

    The T shown in that pronunciation is what linguists call a broad transcription of the pronunciation of the corresponding sound in the word. A "t" sound is perceived by many people, and for all intents and purposes it's only necessary to write the sound as T, but the real sound is much more like "ch", just like in "train". Say "train" slowly and notice you're really saying "chrain". Try to say "train" with a real "t" sound, and it would sound weird. Virtually all words with a "tr" sound that I can think of actually have "chr" sounds. This is why I expressed the pronunciation of the word as such.

    I wasn't. And even if we really were talking within Britain, I have provided you dictionaries which have been written in the US and/or recognize spellings and pronunciations different from the American standard as variants which are listed after the American standard. I assume dictionaries written in Australia, Canada, South Africa, India, the UK, etc., do something similar.

    You said "the people who write the dictionaries". The US has people writing dictionaries just like the UK has.

    You just read it. And the "ch" is represented as a T for reasons I stated earlier in this post.

    Guess what: You're getting into territory where you could actually make a reasonable argument. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry recognizes both spellings of "aluminium", but prefers the spelling with the extra I. It must be kept in mind that the IUPAC is not a linguistic authority, only a scientific one, but at least an argument that "aluminium" is more correct than "aluminum" would actually be somewhat reasonable.

    I should note that Firefox's automatic inline spell check recognizes "aluminum" as spelled correctly, but not "aluminium".

    I wonder what you think of what one could call a triumph for Americans: the spelling of "sulfur", an American variant, being accepted by the IUPAC as the official spelling. The Royal Society of Chemistry, a UK-based authority, has also accepted "sulfur" as the official variant.

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  20. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    Calling for daddy?

    No, the language is called english. Like I said, at least a page ago, if you want a language where you get to decide the rules, start your own. I am not english and yet I would readily admit that my actually "pronouncing" r's is anything but "official".

    I said "I don't see how skipping the t shortens the syllables in the word....still 4" which is true. "li'erally" said slowly comes to 4 syllables. It could be heard as 3 I suppose, not all the time by any means though, definitely in the minority of times. I have still yet to hear "lichrully" though, more like "litrally" if anything.

    Also, that is "lichrully".

     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  21. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

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    Schleebenhorst- Here on the West Coast it's called boo-ey or bwee. I don't know about the East Coast or elsewhere, although I've heard it as "boo-ey" in several songs. As far as the word "literally" goes, for seven years I worked next door to a guy from Manchester (England) who pronounced it "lichrully" the same way we pronounce "naturally" as "nachrully". He also pronounced radio, video, and Indian as RAYjo, VIjo, and INjun.
     
  22. G. F. Schleebenhorst England != UK Registered Senior Member

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    Well I've never heard it said like that.

    How do you pronounce "buoyancy"?
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In the U.K. it must either mean something different or else have no slang meaning at all, since Black Sabbath's bassist Geezer Butler bore that handle on their debut album when he was in his 20s.
    We use the term "Oxford English" over here. I don't know if it's used in the U.K. It's the upper-crust fuddy-duddy language we hear on "Upstairs Downstairs" and all those high-culture BBC shows. The term has probably been reinforced by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) being considered the reference standard for vocabulary just about everywhere. But not spelling or pronunciation of course. They're very good about picking up American and other "foreign" slang. If that's what you mean by "Received" it probably is a minority of the populace and perhaps specifically only those with Oxford degrees.

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    We have a similar phenomenon here. Women who go to "finishing schools" in the Northeast learn a faux-British pronunciation that is distinguished only by its lack of agreement with any natural dialect.
    There ya go, Oxy.
    You rarely hear the word on this side except as a verb, as in, "He's really buoyed up, by the kind words from his boss," and in that sense it's always pronounced like "boy."
    I'm not here to settle disputes as long as everyone is civil. This is a dispute that will never be settled. The old adage, "America and England are two countries divided by a common language," is the truth.
    You're right about that... but only in America. Surely you know enough about England to understand that over there something can be universally acknowleded as a standard without any officiating body to decree it as such. For example, "common law" really works. We don't recognize the authority of many generations of Englishmen to tell us what's right and wrong. Especially if, as in the case of linguistic usage, you're only talking about a handful of generations, and in some cases our phonetics are closer to Shakespeare's than theirs.
    Schleeb is citing authority, by the rules of England. Those rules are so highly respected that they are even observed in Scotland! We don't respect the same authorities in the two countries so, as I said, this dispute is not resolvable.
    I wouldn't bet money on that. The rest of the anglophone world is rather like Scotland. We're the disrespectful mavericks. We're the only ones who couldn't wait for independence to happen gradually and had to shed blood over it.
    I haven't heard that pronunciation, but there are other words in which the rate of palatalization is faster in the U.K. than over here. After all, the reason that "injun" is a slang word for American Indians is that "India" was pronounced "Inja" by many of the early colonists. I've heard the pronunciation "Canajun" used in jest, I wonder if it's taken from actual dialect? After all, someone named the Acadians in Louisiana "Cajuns" and no contemporary American would do that.
    It's not just spelling. The Brits pronounce it al-you-MIN-yum. We say a-LOO-mi-num. Actually, since we palatalize all of our dentals before an unaccented U (have we come full circle, back to "ejoocate"?), if we spelled it the way they do we would pronounce it similarly except for not condensing the final two vowels into a diphthong. We would say al-yuh-MIN-ee-um.
    That's a really poor word to ignore British spelling, since it reflects an actual phonetic difference.
    You sound like a native speaker of Mandarin. I don't know where you hear the sound pronounced that way. Notice how you hold your tongue for the T. It's the same way you hold it to say "take." It is quite different from the shape and placement for "chain." Mandarin has exaggerated fricatives/affricates so they can have two parallel sets: X J Q and SH ZH CH. The first series is palatalized to the degree of the Slavic languages, and the second is pronounced very close to the sound you are describing for TR. We usually teach it by telling people to try to say CHR. In fact, the paradigm is broken since there is no voiceless fricative but the Pin Yin romanization system spells the voiced fricative as R.
    I don't believe any sizeable community of native speakers says it that way and it's certainly not network-TV-announcer-standard American. Everyone should listen to a native speaker of standard Mandarin (not a dialect like Sichuan) say CH and you'll hear the sound in question. I don't believe it occurs in any major dialect of American English.
    Come on, you guys. This is not Free Thoughts or Politics. Please keep the discourse civil here. I want people who stumble into this forum from a Google hit to consider signing up and not run screaming away from a flame war. You as the proper Brit who considers yourself superior should be ashamed of yourself for being the first to hit below the belt.
    Same way, as if the U weren't there.
     

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