Phonetic alphabets

Mullins, Bill Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon Dec 6 19:03:18 UTC 2004

In Alabama, we'd just call you "Bubba".

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Arnold M. Zwicky [mailto:zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU]
> Sent: Monday, December 06, 2004 11:33 AM
> Subject: Re: Phonetic alphabets
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Phonetic alphabets
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> -----------------
> On Dec 6, 2004, at 7:57 AM, FRITZ JUENGLING asked me:
> > This is really cool, but how do you pronounce your name?  Over the
> > years , I have in my mind always given the first two letters their
> > German pronunciations=[tsv].  Don't know why, but I'm sure that's
> > wrong.
> i usually tell people it depends on what language they're speaking.
> [zw] if english, [tsv] (or [tsf]) if german.  the [zw],
> however, is a non-native, "difficult" cluster, so i tend to
> get pronunciations (and
> spellings) eliminating the difficulty: [z at w], [sw], [s at w],
> [z], or [w].
>   the first and third of these are possible *polish* names
> (variously spelled Zawicky, Zewicky, Zowicky, Sawicky,
> Sowicky, etc.), so they are very tempting; the polish
> diaspora is a hell of a lot bigger than the swiss diaspora.
> and then the end of the name looks/sounds sort of slavic to
> lots of people, so it gets transformed into [IC], [ICi],
> [ICki], [Isk], [Iski], whatever.  ([zIkwIC] is the current
> prize-winner in this deformation process.)  finally, even
> though the spelling <ck> should clearly indicate that the
> preceding vowel is lax [I], a surprising number of people
> disregard this and produce tense [ay] instead.
> so every part of my family name is subject to mispronunciation.
> spellings tend to follow the pronunciations (<Swicky>,
> <Wicky>, <Zwiky>, <Zawiski>, etc.), sometimes inventively
> (<Zwizky> for [zwIski], for example, with the exotic <z>
> repeated).  the spelling of the final [i] presents a genuine
> choice: <y>, <ey>, and <i> are all possible spellings in
> english, and the first and third of these are possible
> spellings in german (and, in fact, in the five centuries of
> zwicky genealogical records, there are occasional <Zwicki> variants).
> my first name is also not unproblematic.  Arnold is a pretty
> rare personal name, so people tend to want to replace it by
> something more common, preserving some piece of the original:
> Ronald, Donald, Harold, Albert.  the first three of these are
> further encouraged by the fact that vowel-initial words in
> english come with an automatic glottal stop, and this glottal
> onset is especially prominent in emphatic pronunciations of
> my name -- as in giving the name to strangers! -- so that
> people perceive some sort of consonant at the beginning of
> the name.  this perception is especially strong for speakers
> of languages that generally have consonantal onsets for
> syllables.  (i have a friend whose husband Ernie is regularly
> taken to be named Bernie, by a similar
> process.)
> as for my middle initial, i usually just say "M as in
> Michael", though in fact my middle name is Melchior.  now
> *there's* a rare name in english, though it's an excellent
> swiss name, or at least was.  i am Arnold Melchior Zwicky,
> son of Arnold Melchior Zwicky, son of Melchior Arnold Zwicky.
>  my swiss family has been parsimonious with names for centuries.
> yes, my grandfather had brothers named Caspar and Balthasar.
> with 14 children to name, my great-grandparents Anna
> Schindler Zwicky and Johann Kaspar Zwicky were inclined to
> take the easy route.  when children died in infancy, they
> tended to re-use the names, with the result that my
> grandfather had two brothers named Fridolin (an
> *incredibly* common name in Zwicky history; the famous
> Caltech astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky's father and grandfather
> were both Fridolins), two brothers named Johann Caspar (a
> minor variant of their father's name), and two sisters named
> Eva.  and there was, in fact, a brother named Michael, so "M
> as in Michael" has at least a resonance in my family history.
> but this is probably more than you wanted to hear.
> arnold, a.k.a. alex

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