CLIK/CLEEK & NATIVE SPEAKER [was "FAG one last time"]

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Wed Mar 14 15:29:35 UTC 2001

--On Wednesday, March 14, 2001 10:26 am -0500 Thomas Paikeday
<t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA> wrote:

> Yesterday, for example, my cook (age 31, born of French parents, speaks
> only English, lived most of her life in Windsor, Canada) said (clik) for
> "clique" and left me wondering what to think of this "native speaker"
> utterance. I checked the dictionaries and discovered that in Kenyon &
> Knott (1953), (Webster's Third, 1961), J. C. Wells (1990), Oxford
> notwithstanding, (clik) is indeed an accepted variant of (cleek), only
> that it is British according to Wells (Lynne, have you heard this in
> Sussex? I was in London last weekend but my head was whirling in Cockney
> and Estuary English; didn't listen to higher-class words like "clique";
> couldn't even get through to you on the phone!).

I haven't noticed anyone saying 'clique', but for the record, as an
American, I would not say 'cleek'.  To me, the pronunciation of 'clique' is
equivalent to 'click'.  I might say the vowel a little bit higher/tenser,
but certainly nothing like 'cleek'.

> Ultimately, of course, all pronunciations come from the mouths of
> speakers (native and otherwise). I guess the "native speakers" would
> attribute their pronunciations to their mothers, if "mother tongue" has
> any meaning left. So where does all this lead and which WORKING (not
> just theorizing) lexicographer has the time?

I wouldn't attribute my pronunciations to my mother--especially for a word
like 'clique'-- but to a range of influences, including and especially
peers, educators, and media.


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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