Heard on [adult swim]: "clique" > [klik]

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Thu May 21 00:22:24 UTC 2009

The choice of the /klik/ pronunciation in the Venture Bros. example was clearly a conscious one. The line is spoken by Phantom Limb, a notoriously pretentious villain who speaks with a (faux?) English accent. The character is voiced by an American so the accent is obviously put on, but it's not clear from the show whether the character is supposed to be English or just the kind of super pretentious American who affects an English accent.

-Matt Gordon (who's happy to see that Wilson's watching better TV than the daytime judges he often posts about)

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Wilson Gray
Sent: Wed 5/20/2009 2:38 PM
Subject:      Re: Heard on [adult swim]: "clique" > [klik]
When I knew "clique" only from reading, during the '40's I assumed
that "cleek" - cf. "Cliquot Club" and la veuve Cliquot - was the
pronunciation. By the time that I reached high school, "clique" was in
common use, but pronounced "click"! I assumed that this was the BE
(mis)pronunciation. But I was soon amazed to discover that "click" was
also the pronunciation used by the white guys at my high school! Over
the course of the years, till early this morning, I'd never heard  ,/
   _clique_ pronounced except as "click" by *anyone*, regardless of
race, creed, color, or sexual orientation.

As ("... among the young"?! I'm 72, the approximate age of everyone
who was in high school ca. 1950-1954) claims found in books, how does
a person decide whether some claim is prescriptive untruth, whereas
another random published claim is descriptive truth?
It's like religion. One is true. The others are mythology,

Who is it that decides that X is the primary or preferred
pronunciation and on what basis does he make this decision

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Wed, May 20, 2009 at 8:46 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Heard on [adult swim]: "clique" > [klik]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On May 19, 2009, at 10:01 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> Spoken by a character in an animated cartoon:
>> "They're all members of the Venture _clique [klik]_."
>> I don't think that I've ever heard "clique" pronounced as other than
>> [klIk] before.
> [i] was the original.  the OED has only [i], NOAD2 and AHD4 have it as
> the first alternative. MWDEU:
>   The only dispute over _clique_ seems to be the appropriateness of
> the anglicized pronunciation [with [I]] for this word imported from
> the French in the 18th century [OED first cite in 1711].  By now the
> anglicized pronunciation must be judged acceptable, even if it is less
> frequent than [the pronunciation with [i]].
> .....
> _Garner's Modern American Usage_  (p. 155) accepts both
> pronunciations, but says that the one with [i] is "the preference of
> most cultivated speakers".  this sort of sniffiness against anglicized
> pronunciations is not uncommon.
> i don't know when the [I] pronunciation first appeared, or what its
> current frequency is in what groups (though my impression is that it's
> very widespread among the young in the U.S.).
> arnold
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