cannot: OED pronunciation again

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Tue Jan 18 00:02:49 UTC 2005

On Jan 17, 2005, at 1:49 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> Agreed that the McEnroe example doesn't really touch on the
> possibility of [KAEn at t] as an alternant of [KAEnat], which now that
> you mention it do both seem possible to me for RP.  I'll have to
> listen for these next time I watch a BBC telly show or British movie.
> (They will tend to differ in stress as well, I should expect--the
> former much like "can it" with fully reduced second syllable, the
> latter with some stress retained on the second half.)
> As far as the Johnny Mac sort of case

Et _tu_, Laurentie?! Nope, it can't be happening. Clearly, "[a]s far as
the Johnny Mac sort of case...." must be a lapsus for "[a]s for the
Johnny Mac sort of case...."


> below, I'm sure I've heard both
> first and second syllable stress on "cannot" in U. S. English, based
> inter alia on the rhythm rule.  "You canNOT be SERious" would be
> natural enough, but I think "You CANnot COUNT on him" might be more
> likely (when there's a stressed syllable immediately following the
> "cannot") than "You canNOT COUNT on him".  Or maybe it's just that
> both patterns are possible in this context.  In any case, I share
> Dale's intuition that the "can it" pronunciation (my description, not
> his*) is impossible in the varieties of U. S. English I'm familiar
> with.
> larry
> *and now that I think of it, a bit misleading, since "can it" can or
> must undergo raising (=> "kee'un it") for many U.S. speakers for whom
> "cannot" cannot.  From what I've been told, this difference won't
> arise for U.K. speakers, RP or otherwise, but I could be wrong about
> that.
>>> on 17/1/05 5:02 pm, Dennis R. Preston at preston at MSU.EDU wrote:
>>>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>>  -----------------------
>>>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>>  Poster:       "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU>
>>>>  Subject:      Re: cannot:  OED pronunciation
>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> -------
>>> --> -
>>>>  larry,
>>>>  If you shift the stress to the first syllable (as
>>>>  I have heard some posh RP types do), the
>>>>  pronunciation [kaen at t] works.
>>>>  There are also British Isles [kaen@] dialect forms (less posh).
>>>>  dInIs, who is known for hanging around posh types in general
>>> Not being a linguist, I know not how to record Mr Mackenroe's
>>> Wimbledon
>>> outburts other than as:
>>> 'You kuh-naht be serious!'
>>> - Neil Crawford
>> --
>> Dennis R. Preston
>> University Distinguished Professor
>> Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic,
>>        Asian and African Languages
>> Wells Hall A-740
>> Michigan State University
>> East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
>> Office: (517) 353-0740
>> Fax: (517) 432-2736

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