Flipping the bird? and Morse

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Aug 2 16:17:44 UTC 2000

re "Morse" pronounced the same as "Morris" (as jen lyons reports
her mother doing)...  jen, where did your mother grow up?

i ask because one of the linguistic surprises of columbus, ohio, when
i moved there in 1969, was this very pronunciation for Morse Road (a
major east-west road on what was then the far north side of town).
pretty much everyone who'd grown up in columbus had this
pronunciation.  just for this one item - not for "horse" or "force" or
"course" etc.  i'm not even sure that the "Morris" pronunciation
extended to "Morse code".

extremely item-specific pronunciations are not unknown.  ann
daingerfield zwicky (and some of the people she grew up with in
lexington, kentucky) had "Campbell" pronounced the same as "camel",
while maintaining the [b] in "ramble", "Rambo", etc.  she used this
pronunciation for everyone named Campbell, whether or not they
themselves used it.  so it was "Camel's condensed soups", which
always struck me as perverse.  eventually one of her dearest friends
married a man named Campbell-with-a-b, and she made an exception
for bonnie and ed, her only ramble-Campbells.

so perhaps Morris-Morse originated with a family who (for whatever
reasons) used this pronunciation themselves.  others in the area
would then connect the pronunciation (which they'd learn first)
with the spelling; everybody knows that spelling, especially of
names, is funny.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu), whose names are spelled
  "just the way they sound" (that is, with default sound-spelling
  associations), not that that helps much

More information about the Ads-l mailing list