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

Salikoko S. Mufwene mufw at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Oct 19 22:17:49 EDT 2017


There's a systematic difference between /Nigérien/ (e.g., national of 
Niger--see also the Wikipedia English article on /Niger/), similar to 
/Ivoirien/ (disfavoring /Ivorian/), and /Nigerian/ (e.g., national of 
Nigeria).

On 10/19/2017 8:50 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> The bit about our "yeomen"  is truly idiotic (unless they were speaking
> Classical Latin), and I'm grateful not to have heard of it till now.
>
> This evening I heard someone on MSNBC pronounce the name of the country as
> "Nye-ZHAIR."
>
> The adj. appears to be "Nee [or Nye]-ZHAIR-ee-un."
>
> Spelled "Nigerian."
>
> JL
>
>
>
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:14 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray 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."
>> 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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>>>> www.americandialect.org
>>>> Devoted to the study of English around the world.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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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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>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> -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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>>
>
>

-- 
**********************************************************
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/
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