Another one bites the dust?

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Thu Sep 6 14:19:02 UTC 2007

And the historical foundation for /ey/ for Latin "ae" plurals ain't
so good either, but it's OK for Modern English I reckon.


>---------------------- 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: Another one bites the dust?
>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 -
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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
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Michigan State University
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