[Ads-l] WRT arnold's "Mishearings"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 8 02:52:50 UTC 2015

Reminiscing with my wife, I was telling her about a Chigro who schooled me
in the art of the altar boy, back in the St. Louis day.

W. [...] Roy Ming [...]

B. "Roy ming"? What's that?

W. His name: "Roy Ming."

B. What are you saying? Is it "Roy" something?

W. Yes. "Roy. *Ming*."

B. Huh?

"Roy *Ming*!" You know. "Ming"! Like *Ming* dynasty or *Ming* vase.

B. Oh. I thought that you were saying "Meeng," like, m-e-e-n-g.

WTF? That *was* what I was saying: "M[i]ng"! And she couldn't understand
what word I was saying, because of that?

I had a similar problem in Phonetics 101. I asked the prof why he had
"corrected" my phoneticization of "thing" with [i] to "thing" with [I]. He
replied that "th[i]ng" sounded unusually and unnaturally high, but, if I
pronounced -ing/ink that way, then I could phoneticize it that way. Since
the point of the task was to phoneticize a list of words in your own
idiolect and since, IMO, my pronunciation of "thing" was "standard," I
decided that I must be, somehow, mishearing my own speech. So, for the last
many dekkids, I've always written/typed [I] and not [i], in the relevant
environment, regardless of whether I was representing my own idiolect, even
though it was *other* people's speech that I was mishearing, given that I
(still) don't notice any difference between other people's -ing/-ink and my
version. And my wife had never been confused before, because context had
been sufficient. But there was no context for "royMeeng."


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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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