reservwah (was: paraplegic)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 16 05:34:57 UTC 2001

At 12:25 PM -0400 4/16/01, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>"ANNE V. GILBERT" <avgilbert at PRODIGY.NET> writes:
>All I can say here is, I can't tell you how many people who are supposed to
>be "educated" do much the same thing.  "Nucular" is a popular pronunication
>for "nuclear", even among people who will use "reservwah"(a sort of French
>pronunciation) to suggest their education.  This is just an observation on
>my part.  And I'm not trying to be snobby either.
>My wife, like some other people I've heard, often drops final written "r"
>in French words (not "reservoir", which for us is fully adopted into
>English), even where it is not dropped in French. I call it "French final
>consonant deletion": the overgeneralization of the rule that final
>consonants in written French are silent.
>My first French teacher -- bless her for this, even if I hated her then! --
>taught us the mnemonic "CaReFuL" for the written consonants that are NOT
>silent when final, noting the exception (there are always exceptions, as
>fractal smaller fleas) of final "-er".
I remember the "CaReFuL" from grade school French too, but there's
something else going on with French final consonant deletion (in
English), as illustrated by the example I used earlier of "coup de
grace", in which a typical US Eng pronunciation is [kud at gra] as
opposed to the French [kud at gras] (ignoring the differences in the
quality of the vowels, position of the [r], etc.).  The "s" (here
spelled "c") is pronounced not because it's a c but because it's not
final--it has a silent schwa after it.  (Alternately, the final "e"
is there to indicate that the preceding consonant is to be
pronounced; cf. "heureux" (vowel-final) vs. "heureuse" (z-final) or
"coup" vs. "coupe")  The rule to which Mark alludes seems to be
something like:  when in doubt, delete the consonant you would have
pronounced in an English word.  I'm not sure what the scope of the
rule is, though, since in the last item above, the "p" IS pronounced
in English ("coupe de ville", etc.--or does anyone pronounce that
[kud at vIl]?).


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