Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 17 14:54:03 UTC 2009

Here's a WAG for you. Over centuries, Greek <ei>, presumably
pronounced [ej] in Homer and earlier Greek, came to be pronounced
[ij], then [i:], then [i], as it still is in Modern Greek. As we all
know, thanks to the Great English Vowel Shift, OE /i/ > N[ew]E [ai]. I
assume that most people who decided to introduce a Greek word into
English or even simply to make up some new word based on Greek roots
knew these things, back in the day, and acted upon them in determining
how the new word was to be pronounced by the hoi polloi <har! har!>,
thereby establishing a tradition.

Of course, nowadays, it's not the case that all educated men have a
classical preparatory education and the non-linguistically-trained are
free to make up all kinds of shit out of sometimes computer-generated
(cf. Exxon, which replaced Esso < S.O. < Standard Oil) whole cloth. A
case in point is the English combining-form, _cyber-_. Any classicist
can tell you that the original, Greek-based stem is <cybern->, as in
_cybern-etics_, the unwitting father of all of those bastardized

BTW, Randy, how were you able to send Greek letters instead of lines
of gibberish? I'm impressed!


On Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 9:06 AM, Randy
Alexander<strangeguitars at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Randy Alexander <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: deixis
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 6:34 PM, Michael
> Quinion<wordseditor at> wrote:
>>> This word is not in the OED.
>> It's in the online version marked as being from the Second Edition, and so
>> ought to be on the CD, too. The pronunciation is given there similarly as
>> /'daIksIs/.
> That's very strange.  I checked it online just before I posted and
> could swear it came up blank.  But now I checked it again and there it
> is.
> Anyway, I'm still looking for information as to why it's pronounced that way.
> --
> Randy Alexander
> Jilin City, China
> My Manchu studies blog:
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