[Ads-l] Pronunciation

Salikoko S. Mufwene s-mufwene at UCHICAGO.EDU
Mon Feb 27 13:29:34 EST 2017

Merriam Webster, 11th Collegiate edition, gives both pronunciations, 
although, like you, I have always heard that with "four." May this be 
related to the fact that in colonial English words such as /gone, 
going/,/oil, daughter/, and /lord/ were apparently (also) pronounced 
with the "far" vowel. Atlantic English creoles have been conservative in 
this regard.


On 2/27/2017 11:41 AM, Shawnee Moon wrote:
> I love both the nuances and the profound differences in pronunciation of words, and I try to guess where people are from. I can tell bad faked southern accents by actors, etc.
> There's a couple dialect pinpointing pages on the web that ask how you pronounce words, and they have gotten my region and dialect influences quite accurately, which was impressive to me.
> However, there's one word that I pronounce differently than anyone I know other than immediate family:
> Forehead.
> My family always pronounced it "far head" instead of "four head." Recently I read that the pronunciation is Irish but very old.
>  From Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue:"
> "Often, however, the process has worked the other way around, with pronunciation following spelling. We will see how the changes of spelling in words like descrive/describe and parfet/perfect resulted in changes in pronunciation, but many other words have been similarly influenced. Atone was once pronounced “at one” (the term from which it sprang), while atonement was “at one-ment.” Many people today pronounce the t in often because it’s there (even though they would never think to do it with soften, fasten, or hasten) and I suspect that a majority of people would be surprised to learn that the correct (or at least historic) pronunciation of waistcoat is “wess-kit,” of victuals is “vittles,” of forehead is “forrid,” and of comptroller is “controller” (the one is simply a fancified spelling of the other). In all of these the sway of spelling is gradually proving irresistible."
> Has anyone ever heard anyone else pronounce forehead another way? I'm 55 and never have, and I've lived or been to nearly every state in the country.
> Thanks.
> Mailed from the Moon 🌜
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
1115 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637, USA

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

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