Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun May 30 18:59:55 UTC 2004

Thanks very much to all for your posts about Preakness.  To answer a few

- I didn't know that the so-named horse race wasn't actually run in Preakness,
NJ;  the people who have pointed out that it isn't and that there could
therefore be a difference between the pronunciation of the name of the town in
NJ and the name of the race are probably therefore right!  I agreed with Jim
Landau's observation that (to paraphrase, hopefully correctly) the 'preekness'
pronunciation of the horse-race could well have been caused by non-natives (of
Preakness, NJ, assuming some connection via studs etc) bringing the town name
into the majority class where <ea> = [i:], where it apparently doesn't belong.

- Thanks to Arnold Zwicky (again) for pointing out the confusion over
transcriptions.  When I originally posted the query I should probably have
transcribed the pronunciation I was asking about (the common one) as
[pri:kn at s], with a long [i:], meaning 'preekness', though, to be honest, in the
broadcasts I have heard it has often been difficult to tell whether or not the
[i] is in fact long.  i think it was, though.  So my original query was really
about the difference in usage between the 'prakeness' pronunciation, which I
read is the normative one for the town, and 'preekness', which I now understand
is the only one for the horse-race.  Perhaps I should stick to using spelling
pronunciations in future when I have to write in plain text.  I wish plain text
could handle the IPA.

All that having been said, and setting aside the horse-race (since there seems
to be a lexical diffusion of a specific pronunciation to differentiate it from
the town in NJ), I still wonder how the towns of Preakness, New Jersey and
Leakey, Texas are pronounced.  I suppose a 'phone poll would sort it out!

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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