Pronouncing drug names (w. note for Wilson)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 30 21:17:42 UTC 2008

I should have written "attracts *secondary* stress," since the change
is from "Lindle" with zero stress on the second syllable to secondary
stress on that syllable, so that "LIN d at l" > "LIN Dell," hence
"Lindell" is pronounced with two clearly-stressed syllables, but main
stress is retained as in the local white standard..

As for what causes the two communities to pronounce these words
differently in the first place, that's a strange question to come from
the mouth of an Englishman. What causes cockneys not to speak RP?
Besides, are you unaware of the after-effects of several centuries of
slavery and segregation? And cockneys are as white as any other random
Englishman, pravda?

I figure that the pronunciation of spellings like "Liddell" as
"Liddle" is what motivated my BrE-speaking German friend to misspell
"Waddell" as "Waddle." For several dekkids, I thought that the
['lIdl]-Scott dictionary was the [lI 'dEl]-Scott dictionary.

It's interesting that such spellings can be problematic even for
natives of the Mother Country.


On 1/30/08, Damien Hall <halldj at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Damien Hall <halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Pronouncing drug names (w. note for Wilson)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Then there's the question of how the same drug is named in different countries /
> markets.  I don't think that plays into the examples that Barbara gave
> (necessarily), but it's another factor that could lead to variability.  For
> example, in both Britain and America there's a cough medicine called
> <Robitussin>:  but my American girlfriend pronounces it ['rowbItuhsIn] (where
> 'uh' = wedge), whereas Brits pronounce it ['rObItuhsIn].  I imagine both are
> based on pronunciations in ads, though I've never seen a Robitussin ad in the
> States.  I further imagine that the difference may come from a difference in
> syllabification:  [row.bI.tuh.sIn] for Americans, with a tense [ow]
> syllable-finally in the first syllable, naturally, and [rOb.I.tuh.sIn] for
> Brits, maybe, by attraction from the word 'rob', though against the example of
> words like 'robot'?  That presents a phonotactic problem for Brits, with the
> onsetless second syllable, but off the top of my head I can't think of another
> explanation.  Nor do I know what might have caused the two communities to
> pronounce it differently in the first place.
> On the stress of words with /E/ before /l/:
> > Lindell > LIN Dell (a Saint Louis street-name pronounced [lIndl] by
> > local white speakers)
> > Waddell > Wa DELL (the name of a Navy ship misspelled as "Waddle" in a
> > letter from a BrE-speaking German friend)
> What's the difference between these, phonotactically (seems to be my favourite
> word this morning)?  That is, if /I/ and /E/ tend to fall together as [E]
> before /l/ and attract stress, why isn't 'Lindell' [lIn.'dEl] for people who
> have that rule?  Am I missing something obvious?
> I was really writing to say that my *alma mater* has a building called the
> Liddell Building, which I, a Brit, was pronouncing [lI.'dEl], that is,
> following the stress-attraction rule that Wilson proposed, until I was
> corrected by another Brit who said that it should be ['lIdl].  He was right,
> according to the pronunciation of the name of the person after whom the
> building was named.
> Damien Hall
> University of Pennsylvania
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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