[Ads-l] [Non-DoD Source] "Niger" or "Niger"?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 19 20:14:18 EDT 2017


> Might as well observe that usu. lower-case "Niger" was the usual pre-1800 form
of you-know-what, though
> presumably pronounced "NEEgur."

The oft-read assertion that "our [i.e. your] Anglo-Saxon and Scotch-Irish
yeomen have retained the Classical-Latin pronunciation of _niger_" is right
up there with the "They call one another that" argument in its cynicism.
Which is not to say that Jon is making that argument - I'd be surprised to
discover that he is even aware that that claim has been made - but it is
one of the older ones, made before the spelling was standardized with -gg-.
I doubt that this claim respected a pronunciation any different from
today's, though, because both vowels of Latin _niger_ are short/lax/-ATR,
whatever your favorite theory of phonology prefers.

On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:31 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Might as well observe that usu. lower-case "Niger" was the usual pre-1800
> form of you-know-what, though presumably pronounced "NEEgur."
>
> JL
>
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 11:49 AM, Margaret Winters <mewinters at wayne.edu>
> wrote:
>
> > I had students from there in the 80s and 90s - the pronunciation was the
> > French one [niZer] with the sound in the middle of leisure and their
> first
> > European language was indeed French.
> >
> >
> > The "Mikado"  predates1900, of course...
> >
> > Margaret
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------
> > MARGARET E WINTERS
> > Former Provost
> > Professor Emerita - French and Linguistics
> > Wayne State University
> > Detroit, MI  48202
> >
> > mewinters at wayne.edu
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> > MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <
> > william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL>
> > Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2017 11:34 AM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: [Non-DoD Source] "Niger" or "Niger"?
> >
> > >
> > > 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.
> > >
> > My wife used to buy thistle seeds for her goldfinch feeders.  Then they
> > started calling it Niger seed.  Now it's trademarked as Nyjer .
> >
> > "The name was trademarked as Nyjer ® in 1998 by the Wild Bird Feeding
> > Industry, however, to clarify proper pronunciation (NYE-jerr)."
> > https://www.thespruce.com/nyger-seeds-for-finches-386574
> > Nyjer Seed - Feeding Birds - The Spruce<https://www.thespruce.
> > com/nyger-seeds-for-finches-386574>
> > www.thespruce.com
> > Nyjer seed, also known as thistle or niger, is a popular seed to offer
> > small birds and finches. But what is it, and which birds will eat it?
> >
> >
> >
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-- 
-Wilson
-----
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

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