[Ads-l] "Niger" or "Niger"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 19 11:23:57 EDT 2017


> On Oct 19, 2017, at 11:08 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Nigeria has more people but Niger is bigger.
> 
> Acc. to Wiki-P, a Nigerian of Niger is a "Nigerien" even in English.

Well, that’s how you can tell a player for the Montreal hockey team from a resident of Canada.  Phonologically, though, the former is pronounced sort of like the French word for a female Canadian—Canadi-ENNE.  I suppose it would be the same with Nigeri-ENNE, perhaps with a /Z/ for a bit of French flavor.  

LH
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
> 
>> I guess pronouncing Niger to rhyme with Tiger, as in The Mikado, is no
>> longer a preferred option.  Of course, since Gilbert also rhymed lily with
>> die, it’s possible that standard usage was not his first consideration.
>> 
>> 
>> John Baker
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>> Of Laurence Horn
>> Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:42 AM
>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>> Subject: Re: "Niger" or "Niger"?
>> 
>> External Email - Think Before You Click
>> 
>> 
>>> On Oct 19, 2017, at 10:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM<
>> mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> In my day, people said "NYE-jer." Nowadays, except for a courageous
>>> journalist in the Rose Garden recently, they're all saying "Nee-ZHAIR."
>>> 
>>> Sounds so much more sophisticated, _non_?
>>> 
>>> When was the big switch? The Random House College Dictionary of 1982
>> gives
>>> only "NYE-jer." I first heard Nee-ZHAIR" in the early '80s.
>>> 
>>> JL
>>> 
>> 
>> Over the years, I’ve mostly heard Nee-ZHAIR (with varying attempts to
>> reproduce a uvular [r]) in the not all that frequent mentions of the
>> country I can remember. I assumed preserving the French stress pattern and
>> the always popular /Z/ were partly used to distinguish it from its much
>> larger and more frequently cited neighbor Nigeria. I see AHD5 gives Jon’s
>> pronunciation and mine in that order.
>> 
>> LH
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> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
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