Another one bites the dust?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 6 14:09:34 UTC 2007

At 10:45 AM -0400 9/6/07, Lynne Murphy wrote:
>Both my Pilates teacher (New Zealander, I think) and my yoga teacher
>(English) ALWAYS say 'vertebrae', no matter how many they're talking about.
>E.g. 'Try to move each vertebrae on its own'.

Maybe we're being (relatively) unfair, and they're really saying (or
thinking) "(one) vertebra" but pronouncing the last "a" /ey/ as in
"*a* priori" or "prima f*a*cie".  That does involve lengthening it
and putting it through the vowel shift, but what the hay.  The plural
"vertebrae" would then shift orthographically but be phonetically


>--On Wednesday, September 5, 2007 11:31 pm -0400 Wilson Gray
><hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>Heard on CSI:
>>[Holding up a bone]: "Looks like a human _vertebrae_."
>>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>>                                               -Sam'l Clemens
>Dr M Lynne Murphy
>Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
>Arts B135
>University of Sussex
>Brighton BN1 9QN
>phone: +44-(0)1273-678844
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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