sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Tue Apr 25 18:43:13 UTC 2006

>On Apr 25, 2006, at 1:03 AM, M.I. Amorelli wrote:
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Abbie Frank" <awriteny1a at YAHOO.COM>
>> Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:23 AM
>> Subject: Re: Mitsubushi?
>>> anyone have any ideas as to why some of these variants should be more
>>> popular than others?
>>> arnold (zwicky at
>>> Hello,
>>> Perhaps, if you do find an answer, it will apply to why some people
>>> pronounce the home improvement store "Home Dee Poe"  and others
>>> say "Home
>>> Dehpoe".
>>> Abby F.
>>> C.U.N.Y. at Q.C.
>> Hello,
>> ..or indeed when (Italian) 'salame'/sa-la-me/ and 'zucchine' became
>> American
>> (Brit. etc) 'salami'/s§-la:-mI/ and 'zucchini'.
>> M.I.Amorelli
>> Faculties of Law &Economics
>> Sassari
>> Sardinia
>ah, now we're veering into the fascinating territory of nativization
>of foreign words.  but that's not, i think, the issue with
>"Mitsubishi".  the name is perfectly easy to nativize into english
>(using the special principles for furrin vowels, which predict that
>"i" will be pronounced [i] or [I], depending on context).  the
>problem isn't pronouncing it in english; the problem is *recalling*
>it correctly.  i see now that it presents an interesting difficulty
>for memory.
>the word has all Is, except for one syllable, and that syllable is
>the least prominent one in the word (accented syllables are the most
>prominent -- here, the third syllable has the primary accent, and the
>first syllable a tertiary accent -- and the first and last syllables
>of a word are also prominent, but the second syllable has no kind of
>prominence).  so: how to reconcile the specialness of the U
>(representing [u]) in the second syllable with the lack of prominence
>of this syllable?
>one way involves remembering that the second syllable has U in it,
>but spreading that vowel onto the immediately following, accented,
>syllable, where it can stand out: I U U I (with the Us in the middle
>and the Is at the edges) instead of I U I I.
>another way is just to forget about the U, and use all Is: I I I I.
>still another way is to move the U into the accented syllable: I I U I.
>these are the three most common "improvements" on the original -- the
>first at around 100,000 google webhits, the other two at about half
>the next two improvements preserve U I in the middle of the word, but
>use a U in one or the other of the two secondarily prominent
>syllables: the first syllable, in U U I I (which has the Us first,
>then the Is); or the last syllable, in I U I U (which has a pleasing
>alternating pattern).  these two get around 14,000 hits.
>after that, the other patterns are rare, under a thousand webhits.
>there are six patterns in the 100-900 webhit range.  all of them
>manage to align two vowels with the vowels of the model.  (yes, i
>have now looked at all 16 patterns.  by the way, the model, I U I I,
>gets 69,200,000 webhits).  #11 on the hit parade, U I U I (134
>webhits), has a pleasing alternating pattern, but not much else going
>for it.
>still worse are patterns that preserve only one vowel of the
>original, but at least have some Is in them: I I U U and U I I U,
>with about 15 webhits each. these both have good patterns, but
>they're really too far from the model.
>finally, you get the pattern that preserves *none* of the original
>vowels (U I U U), and the pattern that has no Is at all (U U U U).
>these are desperately far from the model, and, fittingly, they get no
>(legitimate) webhits.
>so it does pretty much make sense.
>arnold (zwicky at
If I'd been going to guess which of the maldistributions  (dystributions?)
of U & I  would prove most hit on, I'd have  thought I I U I, on the
grounds of Mitzi's being a familiar nickname that trips readily from the
tongue.  (I assume the "bush" syllable is more "boot" than "book"?)

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