Pronunciation of "Ngaio"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 9 00:51:33 UTC 2009

At 8:31 PM -0400 5/8/09, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>Further searching shows up the following from Bruce Harding's
>biographical essay at
>  But
>this still sounds like an Anglicization.
>Edith Ngaio Marsh's Taurian date of birth was both richly symbolic and
>portentous, given that 23 April is both St George's Day and the
>legendary birthdate of Marsh's beloved Bard, Shakespeare...

I have nothing interesting to contribute on
"Ngaio", which I've always pronounced ['Naio]
when I've had the (rare) occasion to refer to
her, but I'm sure I'm being influenced by my
years of studying Swahili, which left me with a
frustrated desire to pronounce initial velar
nasals.  But seeing the reference to her
"portentous" date of birth reminds me of my
double-take earlier today when I was listening to
an audiotape of a very British novel (a book by
Kingsley Amis that happens to feature
disagreements about "trendy pronunciations") and
hearing the narrator, with his RP pronunciation,
refer to something being "portentious".  I
suppose this isn't really a question of  accent
or dialect, though, just an assimilation of
"portentous" with the much larger class that
includes e.g. "pretentious", à la "nucular".


The American Dialect Society -

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