Telephone pole

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu May 17 19:45:54 UTC 2007

On May 17, 2007, at 6:24 AM, Jim Landau wrote:

> ... can you explain why everybody in the US is convinced there is a
> city in
> Mexico named "Aunt Jane"?  Tijuana (correct spelling) is commonly
> pronounced Tiajuana (as in "Tiajuana Trolley"), which is Spanish for
> "Aunt Jane".

if you try to preserve the high [i] in the first syllable, you'll get
an english *tense* vowel, and that then requires some stress
(admittedly not a primary stress, but stress nevertheless).  but then
it's immediately followed by a stresseded syllable.  english doesn't
like an stressed open syllable followed by a stressed syllable (it's
ok with a stressed *closed* syllable in this configuration, as in
"monsoon" and "pontoon").  inserting a schwa fixes the stress clash.

i suspect the [hw] contributes to the problem, although i've heard
plenty of english speakers simplify this to [w] and *still* insert
the schwa -- giving "tiawanna", rhyming with "Lackawanna" and with
the same stress pattern -- so the [h] can't be the whole story.

(by the way, i *think* that the correlation between hw > w in clearly
english words (like "whales") and hw > w in spanish "Juan", "Juana",
"Tijuana" etc. is not very good.  in particular, i think that there
are plenty of people who don't have hw in native words manage it
frequently in borrowings from spanish.)


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