American pronunciation of ''semi''

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 11 14:53:02 UTC 2000

>On Tuesday, January 11, 2000, Lars Anders Kulbrandstad
><lars.kulbrandstad at LUH.HIHM.NO
>> wrote:
>>Are there any speakers of American English who could help sort out an
>>argument* on the pronunciation of "semi"?
>>In British English it rhymes with "Demi" - the actress. Does this
>>pronunciation occur in AmE?
>Man, I think that dime will go unclaimed.
>I pronounce "semi" two ways: SEM-ee and SEM-igh. I dunno why, though it
>seems like I
>use the latter in exaggeration and always as an abbreviation for a
For me, it's not necessarily an exaggeration; it also occurs in the
quasi-Texan dialect of e.g. Dan Jenkins's _Semi-Tough_, of which the first
member is necessarily pronounced as in those semi-tractors (the latter of
Grant's pronunciation options).  Those Latinate semi[!]-productive prefixes
are always a condundrum; I'm never quite sure how I want to say "quasi-",
at least four distinct possibilities suggesting themselves.


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