Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat May 29 16:14:17 UTC 2004

On May 28, 2004, at 11:26 AM, Damien Hall wrote:

>> From my reading, the name of Preakness (NJ) is a member of the small
>> class of words (eg *great*, *break*) which were not included in the
>> sound-change whereby <ea> came to be pronounced [i:];  according to
>> my reading, Preakness, NJ is pronounced [preiknIs].
> But, twice in the last two days, I've heard National Public Radio
> announcers pronounce it [prikn at s] ([@] = schwa).  Is this
> widely-attested?  Could we be witnessing a change in the normative
> pronunciation?

there have been various followups to this, but there's some possible
confusion about transcriptions.  damien hall, above, apparently
distinguishes a tense/long/close/higher/upgliding vowel [i:] (sometimes
transcribed [ij] or [iy]) from a lax/short/open/lower/simple vowel [i]
-- "leek" vs. "lick", presumably.  so i took him to be saying that he's
heard "Preakness" pronounced like "prickness".

in one common american style of phonetic transcription (used by several
people who followed up), these vowels are written as [i] vs. [I], so
that [prikn at s] would encode something like "Preekness".

those who followed up disregarded the difference in hall's
transcriptions, and, apparently, concentrated on the difference between
the two tense/long/close/upgliding vowels [i:]/[ij]/[iy][i] and
[e:]/[ej]/[ey]/[e].  for them, the question was "Preekness" vs.
"Prakeness", and americans are reporting that the name of the horse
race has (only) the first of these pronunciations.  to that i'd add my
voice.  i'm not sure about "Prickness", though.

to add to the confusion, the passage from hall about seems to be
entirely about the town in new jersey (the name of which i know nothing
about the pronunciation of), though surely the references to the
Preakness on NPR would have been to the horse race.

arnold (zwicky at, somewhat confused,
   but cheering Smarty Jones on

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