Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 1 02:27:23 UTC 2001

At 10:02 AM -0500 11/1/01, Frank Abate wrote:
>To add to the items mentioned so far, as I have not seen others mention it:
>"DEE-fens".  This seems to be very common for all US speakers when the
>context is sports, esp. (Amer) football.  That is, it is the "d at -FENS"
>Department, but the [pick your NFL or college team] "DEE-fens".
>Frank Abate

Possibly, I've always thought, primed by the contrast with
"OF-fense", which is always pronounced that way with that meaning.
(Although with certain teams, you could pronounce it either way--the
teams whose offense is rank and stinks to heaven.)  The idea is that
you get the same effect here that you do with "covert", which used to
be pronounced like "covered" with a voiceless final consonant but now
is almost always CO-vurt, to more clearly bring out the minimal
distinction with "overt", which in the same contrastive contexts
("overt/covert operations") tends to get initial stress.


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