Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Dec 12 15:51:58 UTC 2006

Some years ago, I footnoted a dry and learned discussion about the folklore of gerbil insertion with the smart-ass comment that I had examined "the annals of proctology" but failed to discover actual instances of the urban legend motif.  As far as I'm aware, nobody ever noticed the joke--or found it amusing--or even read the article!


---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 10:32:38 -0500
>From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Mispronunciation
>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: Mispronunciation
>>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.)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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