RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Aug 1 14:59:40 UTC 2000

In a message dated 7/31/2000 2:04:01 PM, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM writes:

<< While I have no evidence to adduce here, I notice that the EI of EITHER is
in the prominent word-initial, stressed position. In EIGHT and NEIGHBO(U)R
the digraph is immediately followed by GH, which notoriously does strange
things to pronunciations; CONCEIVE belongs to the well-known "except after
C" subset; and WEIRD, if pronounced as German, would make an unGerman
syllable (final /rd/ after a diphthong; does it exist at all?) But EITHER
and NEITHER, allowing for the mapping of the fricative edh into the stop
/d/, which is so well known that it is included in anybody's parody or
representation of a German accent, form perfectly reasonable German
(pseudo)words. Note also that they are function words, more common than any
of these others except possibly EIGHT, and thus would be much more
noticeable in the King's speech and subject to imitation by court toadies. >>

This is a lovely caricature of a speculative psycholinguistic argument--thanks
, Mark. I enjoyed it a lot.

Now we just need to explain why a German reading English would be influenced
by "the well-known 'except after C' subset"; why a German reading English
would ignore WEIRD because the phonology is marginally non-German but not
ignore NEITHER even though the phonology is non-German; why the supposed
"strange things" that GH does to the way native speakers of English pronounce
words would prevent a German from pronouncing NEIGHBOR or SLEIGH to rhyme
with BAY; and why a king (or any other second-language learner) would be more
influenced by spelling pronunciations for the MOST common word, i.e., the one
that would most likely be learned aurally rather than through reading!

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