[Ads-l] Pronunciation

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 27 15:30:00 EST 2017


I grew up saying “far-head”, which I later realized was a spelling pronunciation (sort of like “victuals” as VIK-chewals or “waistcoat” as…waist-coat).  Probably a key factor in this realization was the rhyme (from the Child’s Garden of Verses?):

There was a little girl
Who had a little
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good 
She was very very good
But when she bad she was horrid

(Not “...she was hoar-head”, or worse)

So then I relearned it as /'far at d/ (i.e. “fahrid" like Jon) and then again (when I switched the vowels in the relevant class of <or> words--“corridor”, “forest”, “orange”, “moral”, “horrid", etc.--from /a/ to /O/) relearned it as /‘fOr at d/ with open o. Now I’m not sure what I say—fahrid, fourid, or fore-head, or any and all of them randomly.    

LH 


> On Feb 27, 2017, at 3:18 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> LIke my NYC grandparents, I say "fahrid."
> 
> JL
> 
> On Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 1:29 PM, Salikoko S. Mufwene <s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
>> wrote:
> 
>> 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.
>> 
>> Sali.
>> 
>> 
>> 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
>> http://mufwene.uchicago.edu/
>> **********************************************************
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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