Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Fri Aug 24 17:38:51 UTC 2001

--On Friday, August 24, 2001 11:57 am -0500 Herb Stahlke
<hstahlke at GW.BSU.EDU> wrote:

> There's a Mazda ad on TV currently in which a formally dressed young boy
> says /zUmzUm/ as a Mazda goes zooming by.  In the background, a male
> vocal group that does not sound like an American dialect (a colleague
> thinks it's Ladysmith),.... Since "zoom" is imitative
> and comes into the language long after the partial laxing of /u/ in Early
> Modern English, where is /zUm/ coming from?  How widespread is it?  Does
> it have a lax vowel in this ad because it's reduplicated?  Why did the
> producers choose the lax vowel consistently?

Well, if the singers _are_ Ladysmith Black Mambazo or another (South)
African vocal group, then why should we think that they should be limited
by the etymology of the word, or by the phonological patterns of English?

I've not seen the ad, but is it possible that it's /zmzm/ instead, with
syllabified /m/ (can't do the diacritic on e-mail) rather than a real
vowel?  That is, since it's sung, couldn't it just be humming with z's at
the beginning of each syllable?  That's how I'd imagine it...


M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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