[Ads-l] Q: M silent in MN?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 3 16:25:46 UTC 2015

On Jan 3, 2015, at 10:51 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> At 1/3/2015 02:03 AM, W Brewer wrote:
>> What homework is JB wanting us to do for him now?
> OK, I'll confess.
> I really couldn't think of "mn" words silencing the M last night, only several (contra Larry's hypothesis)

Au contraire.  My hypothesis concerned all and only *initial* clusters; final ones work both ways ("damn" vs. "impugn").


> silencing the N, like "condemn".
> The question arises from someone asking elsewhere:
>> In a British Museum print, critical of George ii, is seen a paper on which is written "A Whimnam new co[me] over".
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v1/url?u=http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId%3D3072931%26partId%3D1%26people%3D109640%26peoA%3D109640-1-9%26sortBy%3D%26page%3D1&k=dpQisR3avULHgiNaNeY%2Btg%3D%3D%0A&r=MW6Q85EuQFDFs0kj9ASwdaXohusE833r9bFEf66m5kA%3D%0A&m=zcPBaK6Qr57VkAH4KkhCRmKemX9BSvfHtqZXW9TwORQ%3D%0A&s=154a8ac38128a9ae974a7f446f60e7ce0a1773b0d61ffaaa00176b04556afee0
>> I wonder if any colleague here can explain what is meant by the word 'Whimnam'?
> One response was:
>> This may be a stretch, but I immediately thought that it might be a phonetic spelling of a pronunciation of the (already-phonetic) "Houyhnhnm."  Given some of the other elements of the satire--not only erotic but also references to eating, drinking, and anger (according to the curator's note)--and the general tenor of the piece, perhaps it is being used ironically to point toward the yahoo-like aspects of George's character?  Setting up a kind of analogy in which George II : Solomon :: Yahoos : Houyhnhnms.  Does anyone know of any satires or panegyrics in which George II is the "Houyhnhnm come over [from Hanover]"?
>> Again this seems like a stretch, but the Faulkner edition had been published in Dublin very shortly before the print was made.
> I found  from Wikipedia's article "Houyhnhnm" that it can be pronounced  /?hw?n?m/ -- first ? I as in "lid", second ? schwa.  So "Houyhnhnm" can be pronounced "whinnum".  Which might have in the 18th century by the non-native-English-speaking George II  been "phonetically spelled "Whimnam" -- provided I could say the "mn" had a silent "m".  So I was grateful for "mnemonic".
> (My thought about George being associated with the Houyhnhnm is that to the writer of the print critical of him is that the writer took his speech -- either in English or German -- as sounding like a horse whimnaming (whinnying). "A Whimnam new co[me] over" fits George II, who (I believe) only came over to England some years after his father did.)
> Joel 
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