GEnome or geNOME

Derrick Chapman derrickchapman at MINDSPRING.COM
Mon Jun 26 12:29:01 UTC 2000

We relate new words to familiar words, sometimes pairing them incorrectly
(which leads to folk etymologies and common "mis"-pronunciations
overwhelming the scholarly "correct" pronunciations).

Gen- as the original root, yielding gen-ET-ics (short e in the first and
second syllables) probably leads to the gen-O-type and gen-OME
pronunciations; but the public awareness of GENE (with the long e)probably
leads to GE-no-type and GE-nome (long e's and stress in first syllables).

One day we may have to acquiesce to GEE-ne-tics.  GEE-whiz!

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Herb Stahlke
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2000 8:07 AM
Subject: GEnome or geNOME

This morning I heard Carl Kassel, reporting on the nearly completed mapping
of the human genome, stress the ultima.  In other reports and interviews
I've heard both pronunciations, from both reporters and researchers.  I
checked the AHD, the only dictionary I have that's recent enough to list the
word, and it gives only penultimate stress, although it does list a second
spelling without the final -e and pronounced with a short <o>.  Where is the
final-stressed pronunciation coming from?  I can imagine explanations, like
an ersatz-French hypercorrection, but none of them sounds particularly

Herb Stahlke
Ball State University

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