word pairs

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    Today (Aug 31, 2010) the NY Times crossword puzzle included five pairs of words which are spelled alike, but pronounced differently. Each is two syllables with the difference between the words in each pair determined by which syllable is accented. The word (pairs) are address, incense, console, exploit, and present.

    How common is this peculiarity in English? Do other languages have similar word pairs?
     
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  3. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    Where are pairs?

    Indian languages are 100% phonetic. So a word cannot be pronounced in two ways. Period. Same for all phonetic languages, I suppose.
     
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  5. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

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    rcsw:
    Just dying to show off that Exotic Indian Language bit, huh?

    Right there:
    Allow me to address where you might find the address of these awesome nym words-- you'll find them here, in the loving bosom of my prose, where in its tender loins you'll smell the insence of a word in flames sending its delicate aroma like burning cinders to incense you.

    This is the present, a little gift, I'm here to present you.
    See?

    mathman:
    They're called heteronyms, and are quite common.

    My favorite?
    Polish.

    "polish, short o, used to describe a process of rubbing a surface.
    Polish, long o, used to describe a person robbing a grocery store."
    - Gendanken

    There are others, like minute and wind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In each case it's actually the same word that has evolved a slightly different pronunciation over the centuries. Notice that in each of these pairs one word is a noun and the other a verb, both formed from the same original word with related meanings. The loss of the old second- and third-person verb inflections is one of the most recent changes in English grammar. When you wrap your tongue around a statement like "thou exploiteth my weakness," or "my friend consolest me not," you're obligated to shift the accent onto the second syllable to avoid tying your tongue in a complete knot. Today we say "you exploit" and "he consoles," but the accent was established a few hundred years ago and we're stuck with it. Gendanken's example is more interesting because "Polish" the nationality and "polish" the cleaning product are not related words; the similarity is just a coincidence.

    So throw out all the pairs that are actually two versions of the same word and see how many real ones you have left like Polish/polish.
    No they're not. Just as in English, you don't have a symbol indicating stress, so there's no way to tell which syllable in a word is accented. I have no way to determine how my friends' names Pallav, Chitralekha, Bharat, Nagabhushanam, Prakash and Parvathi are supposed to be pronounced. Is it PAR-va-thy or par-VA-thy? I have to ask them how to say their names. And this has nothing to do with transliteration into the Roman alphabet, the same problem exists in the original Devanagari script (or other writing system).
    There is no such thing as a "phonetic language." It is a writing system that is or is not phonetic, not the language itself. There are no perfectly phonetic writing systems. Most of them have the same problem as German and Hindi: you can't tell which syllable gets the stress.

    Of course that's not true of all written languages. In French, Spanish, Polish and Czech you always know where the accent goes. But they have other spelling problems. French is arguably worse than English.
     
  8. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting.

    Never noticed they were verb-noun pairs before.
    So you're saying its becuase of a verb inflection?

    But wait a second-- what about words like bass and invalid?
     
  9. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

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    So I could polish up on my German ..or German up my Polish, wait, wars are fought over shit like that.
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Not applicable. The words are pronounced exactly as they are written.

    e.g. you would write Pallav as Pa-half La-La-Va and read it as Pal-la-va

    Chitralekha would half Ee [short]-Cha-Ta-half Ra-La-half Ay-Kha-Aa and would be read as Chit-Ra-Lay-Khaa

    Bharat would be Bha-Aa-Ra-Ta [soft] and would be read as Bhaa-Rat with the final Ta a very soft sound

    Nagabhushanam would be Na-Aa-Ga-Bha- half long Oo-Sha-Na-Ma and would be Naaga-Bhoo-Shan-Am

    Prakash would be Pa-half Ra-Ka-Aa-Sha and would be Pra-Kaa-Sh

    Parvathy would be written as Pa-half Aa-Ra-Va-Tha-half Ee [long] and read as Paar-va-thee

    I would show you the script itself, but I don't have a hindi keyboard and the virtual keyboards don't allow for half letters
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  11. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

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    Hi SAM,
    I have a wonderful Indian spiced potato dish I love to cook, I call it Venkatapathy Raju (after an Indian cricketer), I can pronounce it correctly but when I say it extremely quickly (with just a hint of a head wobble and my fingers gesticulating infinitessimally) the kids just look at me like I've got two heads. They do gobble it up though.
    I think the proper name is ghujarati aloo.
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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  13. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

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    SAM, thanks for the link, I do it mustard seeds and a good dollop of tamarind.

    Yummo.
     
  14. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

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    We have a heteronym for India, ... 'geddid india' meaning 'get it into you'.
     
  15. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    "In each case it's actually the same word that has evolved a slightly different pronunciation over the centuries. Notice that in each of these pairs one word is a noun and the other a verb, both formed from the same original word with related meanings. The loss of the old second- and third-person verb inflections is one of the most recent changes in English grammar. When you wrap your tongue around a statement like "thou exploiteth my weakness," or "my friend consolest me not," you're obligated to shift the accent onto the second syllable to avoid tying your tongue in a complete knot. Today we say "you exploit" and "he consoles," but the accent was established a few hundred years ago and we're stuck with it. Gendanken's example is more interesting because "Polish" the nationality and "polish" the cleaning product are not related words; the similarity is just a coincidence."

    Not true in all cases. For example:
    console (first syllable) - piece of furniture, console (second syllable) - expressing sympathy to someone
    incense (first syllable) - something burnt giving off a pleasant odor, incense (second syllable) - make someone mad
    present (first syllable) - here (opposite of absent), present (second syllable) - give

    I think I can give examples for all the words listed.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    Not always a verb inflection; in Latin, verbs, nouns and adjectives are rather freely formed from each other by means of inflections, and we inherited those words either directly from Latin or via French. Our language has a modest facility of that type: same/sameness (adjective/noun), eager/eagerly (adjective/adverb), witch/bewitch (noun/verb), but nothing as expansive as Latin. English is more of an analytical language than inflected: we throw words together to form new words instead of tacking on prefixes and suffixes. Doghouse, bathrobe, chainsaw. Latin did that too, but not as rampantly as we do.
    Bass the fish was originally barse. Like passel from parcel and cuss from curse, at one time there was apparently a force at work that elided R before S in a few words. The pronunciation of the musical term bass, with a long A before a double consonant, violates what few pathetic rules our language actually has about spelling; it was a ghastly melange of the English word base and the Italian word basso.
    You haven't done your due diligence. To console someone is to support them, and the noun console was originally just a bracket--a support--before it grew into an entire TV cabinet. I'll leave the other etymologies for your homework.

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    BTW, rummaging through Wikipedia I discovered that Slovene has quite a few heteronyms. They solved the problem by violating their own orthographic rules. They put an accent mark over the vowel in one of the two (chosen arbitrarily). Accent marks are not used for any other purpose in Slovene writing.
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Is there a rule that a half-letter cannot be accented or something like that?

    Because from what you have written, I still cannot figure out how to accent each word.

    Is it PAR-va-thy or par-VA-thy or par-va-THY?
     
  18. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

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    685
    Wow. As a very small aside, do you know why the British say week·end and prin·cess, and other such Britishisms, which are very different from what I know them to be (ie, in America).
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Despite 944 years of the influence of a Norman French superstrate, English is still a Germanic language. The Germanic pattern of accenting all words on the first syllable (except when it's a native Germanic prefix like a-, be-, for-, etc.) is still a strong force. "Princess" is a French word, accented on the last syllable, and the British still pronounce it that way, but in America it has succumbed to the Germanic force and we have moved the accent forward. "Week end" of course is a compound of two words; the British put the accent on the second, but we chose the German way. This is not consistent, there are other words in which we retain the foreign accentuation and the Brits have Teutonized it.

    Depot is a French word, deh-POH, but we pronounce it DEE-po. Rodeo is Spanish, ro-DAY-o, but outside the American Southwest where we tend to pronunce Spanish more accurately, it's usually ROH-dee-oh. La riata, lah-RYAH-tah, became LA-ree-ut (lariat). On the other hand, we turned Spanish vaquero, vah-KAY-ro, into buck-a-ROO, with the accent on the third syllable.

    It's hard to find consistency among dialects. Compare British al-yoo-MIN-yum with American a-LOO-min-um.
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    The accent is provided by the sound of the words themselves. There is no other accent. Its a phonetic language - the sound of the words is fixed.

    Its Par-Va-Thee
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I'm sorry, but this still doesn't explain anything.

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    Of course the sound of the words is fixed, and of course the accent is provided by the sound of the words themselves. It is always like that, in every language that I know of.

    Perhaps you don't relate to what Fraggle Rocker and myself are asking?


    For example, when people nowadays learn Latin, they have to learn elaborate rules for how to accent words - ie. how to read written words out loud - http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/grammar/g-accnt.html

    For example, this one frequently comes up in wider culture: "Carmina Burana" - Is it CAR-mi-na BU-ra-na; or is it Car-MI-na BU-ra-na; or is it Bu-RA-na?
    People who don't know this is Latin and merely read the title of Carl Orff's music piece, often accent it "CAR-mi-na" which is wrong (correct is Car-MI-na Bu-RA-na).


    I can read this as either with the accent on the first syllable, or on the second, or on the third.

    I have not heard the name spoken by a native speaker or other authoritative source, so I don't know how it is supposed to be pronounced.

    I have heard Westerners speak it, and I have heard at least two variants.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    No its only like that in phonetic languages. In English, thats not true. simple example "go" and "to" are not pronounced the same way. But write "Ga-short half Oo" and "Ta-short half Oo" in Hindi and the "to" will be spoken in the exact same accent as the "go". To make it sound like the English "to" we would need to write "Ta-long half Oo"

    Cannot explain it any better. Sorry. Simply that its not PAR-va-thy or par-VA-thy, or par-va-THY, its just par-va-thee. The hardness or softness of the accent comes from the sound of the letter itself, its not accented by the speaker.

    Can you read it without accenting any syllable? That is the correct pronunciation for this name.
     
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It is always true, as far as I know.

    The primary form of a language is its spoken form, not the written form.

    Problems emerge when we try to read out loud words without having heard from native speakers or authoritative sources how to pronounce them.


    This is simply not possible. Nouns - and a name is a noun - must have a word accent on one of its syllables.


    It seems you are not talking abut word accent, but about the quality and quantity of vowels.
     

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