Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Tue Mar 20 17:25:33 UTC 2001

>  From Larry Horn:
>> I've always said "nitch" but "cleek" (and "cleekish").  And "sheek"
>> for CHIC.

Now, I saw 'neesh' and 'click', so perhaps the two French-ish
pronuniciations (or the two English-ish ones) are in complementary
distribution.  Perhaps only so many 'ee' phonemes are allowed in any
individual's vocabulary, and in order to satisfy this constraint, the 'ee'
has to go in one of these two low-frequency words.  The next question is
what would motivate such a constraint.  My hypothesis is that 'ee' causes
you to smile when you say it, and if you say too many 'ee's this might
cause imbalance to your psyche by making you too happy.  The laxer 'I'
avoids this problem.

Of course, we're on vacation here, so I cannot be held accountable for any
reasoning that I do at the moment.


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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