Stress patterns on words spelled with final <el>

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 28 04:53:43 UTC 2000

At 12:08 PM -0400 8/28/00, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>My grandfather brought my surname from the Austro-Hungarian Empire into
>this country as "Mandelbaum", pronounced
>      'man.dL.baUm
>in German and
>      'm at n.dL.baUm
>in English. [a = low back unrounded vowel, L = syllabic ell, U = lax high
>back rounded vowel (here as offglide in diphthong), @ = low front unrounded
>vowel (ash, aka a-e ligature), period = syllable boundary]
>My father dropped the last four letters, evidently on entering the Army in
>WW2. I like to think that it was to avoid sounding German rather than to
>avoid sounding Jewish. I suppose he changed the stress at the same time,
>but I have no way of knowing; I only know that it has been
>      m at n.'dEl
>all my life and I have never heard it any other way within the family. [E
>= epsilon, low-mid front unrounded vowel]
>Sometimes strangers mispronounce it
>      'm at n.dL
>-- on the phone, a sure indication of spam! Often people misspell it as
>      Mandell
>with double ell, which is after all a more logical English spelling of this
>The surname is fairly common in the US*, and in my experience always
>pronounced as we pronounce it, never with initial stress.

Well, he could have anglicized it to Almondtree, but then everyone
would have had to decide whether or not to pronounce the L.
Curiously, I've only ever heard the geneticist Gregory Mendel's name
pronounced 'mEn.dL, but maybe everyone knows he was Austrian or
whatever.  I'm not sure the double-LL really helps either.  The Mets
have a relief pitcher named Turk Wendell and I've heard it pronounced
with each stress pattern about half the time.  (I think he actually
pronounces it to rhyme with Mendel.)  On the other hand, the last
name of the linguist Bill Cantrell is always pronounced with final
stress, possibly even by himself.


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