Alan Baragona baragonasa at VAX.VMI.EDU
Tue Apr 27 15:09:54 UTC 1999

This morning on NPR, I heard a report on a new Picasso show at the
Metropolitan, during which the curator referred to the sort of painting on a
Greek vase, pronounced [vaz].  It made me wonder how many people still
practice that bogus distinction between an expensive [vaz] and a cheap
[ves].  Is it still a shibboleth?  Are there any good treatments of the
history of the pronunciation?  The OED points out that Swift and Byron
rhymed "vase" with "face" and "grace" respectively, so [ves] is not an
American innovation.  Was it French influence (or French by way of British)
that fostered the snobbish distinction in the U.S.?

Alan B.

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