Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 12 15:32:38 UTC 2006

>Natalie Morales on NBC's Today reported on a recent article in the "Annals of
>Neurology."  [ae]>[ej] in "annals" (ae=ash)
>"Uranus" is in the middle of a fight between prudish and bold
>pronunciations--the OED listing the prudish pronunciation first: stress on the
>first syllable and reduction of the [ej] vowel to a schwa.
>Is 'annals' so similar to 'anal' that the [ae] doesn't occur to a
>first-time  or
>nervous reader?  It seems so many other forms would work better on
>analogy with
>the spelling of other pre-'nn' A's. cf channel, flannel, annual, annotate,
>canned, planner etc.
>Is this some sort of forbidden-fruit/Freudian slip that makes annals so
>resistant to these analogies?
Maybe just infection by familiarity, the other side of the taboo
avoidance coin.  "annal(s)" looks like "anal", which is a more
salient word and can't resist the gravitational pull of the latter
(does "Uranus" have a lot of gravity?).  That would, I suppose, be a
kind of Freudian slip--no temptation to do the same with "channel",
"flannel", and the others, which in any case have the -el and so are
orthographically quite distinct from "anal", or "canal", which is
orthographically close but phonetically entirely distinct.
"Annal(s)" is just close enough phonetically, besides the fact that
maintaining or poring through all those persnickety records is, well,
kinda anal.  (I'm sure those "Annalistes", the French historians who
base their work on minute inspection of, say, the diaries of 18th
century rural baptism records and death certificates, are more than
used to puns based on the connection.)


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