Donald M Lance
lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Wed Dec 12 22:20:56 UTC 2001
Well, it gets curiouser and curiouser.
-- Doug Wilson wrote:
>The full name of the disease usually called "diabetes" is of course
>"diabetes mellitus". We "know" instinctively or otherwise that the
>inflectional suffixes must match -- e.g., Circus Maximus, Canis familiaris,
>anorexia nervosa, Costa Mesa, labia majora, hocus pocus. So it must be
>"diabetus mellitus". Maybe a hypercorrection of sorts.
So the voiceless -s in -itis also is lexical. The schwa pronunciation
doesn't have to derive from hypercorrection, because (as others have
mentioned) -i- spellings in unstressed syllables may range (perhaps
regionally) from [I] to barred-i to schwa, as in Missouri. Of course, in
20th century American English, the open-syllable -i/-y/-ie is the tense /i/.
Since these variants are "normal," then spelling becomes an issue for those
who "didn't have phonics." [n.b.: quotation marks = irony here]
If hypercorrection comes into play, it would be in references to one
> From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 15:33:06 -0500
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: diabetes
> Well, I take back some of my stress-rlaated vowel-quality ramblings.
> I was thinking only of the schwa versus [I] pronunciation, but some
> people have pointed out (and I have certainly heard) an [i]
> pronunciation but with a following voiced consonant. I wonder now
> (and this is surely lexical) if you can get [i] without a voiced
> consonant? - [-is]. I think I have never heard it.
>> The discussion is proceeding as if the variant under discussion is just a
>> vowel, but as DInIs points out, stress also appears to be a variable here.
>> It appears that in American English we tend not to have the lax vowel if
>> that syllable has secondary/tertiary stress. Or maybe it's strong syllable
>> versus weak syllable. Anyway, this is probably a lexical rather than
>> phonological thing. Are there any other disease names that manifest this
>> variation? I can't think of any.
>>> From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
>>> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 13:14:12 -0500
>>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>>> Subject: Re: diabetes
>>> Ya'll should remember that some schwa-like sounds are more [I] like
>>> in southern speech. If one does not give some stress to the last
>>> syllable (permitting [i]), it's going to end up as a schwa; if that
>>> schwa is more /I/ like, some of y'all northerners might have been
>>> fooled. That is, it may simply be vowel reduction with regional
>>> quality variation.
>>> On the other hand, that variation may have led to "real" /I/
>>> pronunciations (although that would seem to require some degree of
>>> stress). (I just noticed I called the phoneme rather than the phone
>>> "real." Heaven help me!)
>>> Of course, "medical -itis" (the spelling only) may also play a role here.
>>> dInIs (who always notes the more [I]-like pronunciation of his last
>>> syllable, even when unstressed, the farther south he goes)
>>> PS: I'm just jerkin y'all around by putting the apostrophe in
>>> different places in ya'll. Y'all don't need to write in about it no
>>>>> For what it's worth, I've seen the spelling "diabetis" fairly
>>>>> regularly from certain posters on the usenet diabetes support groups.
>>>>> I've never understood where this came from, as it's certainly not
>>>>> something I've noticed here in the northeast. One particular poster,
>>>>> who used to use this spelling *a lot* is a good enough writer that
>>>>> the "mis-spelling" really stood out. She's lived in Alaska most of
>>>>> her adult life, but, if I remember the autobiographical details she's
>>>>> posted correctly, she grew up in Michigan (I'm not sure where).
>>>> This gets weirder. I've never seen the *spelling* "diabetis", just the
>>>> pronunciation. But then, I may not be reading the right kind of
>>>> Anne G
>>> Dennis R. Preston
>>> Department of Linguistics and Languages
>>> Michigan State University
>>> East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
>>> preston at pilot.msu.edu
>>> Office: (517)353-0740
>>> Fax: (517)432-2736
> Dennis R. Preston
> Department of Linguistics and Languages
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
> preston at pilot.msu.edu
> Office: (517)353-0740
> Fax: (517)432-2736
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