Liddell (was: Pronouncing drug names (w. note for Wilson))

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 31 20:31:06 UTC 2008

Probably, at one time, the central doubled orthographic "d" was once
meant to indicate that the shift-rule was not to be applied. Or
something like that.

I haven't even seen my copy of the dictionary in about thirty years.
So, I knew that I was taking a chance. I wasn't even certain  that
"Scott" was the second name. I shall not attempt to defend
"Liddell-Scott" against "Liddell and Scott," since memory utterly
fails on this point. I find "Liddell and Scott" somewhat more elegant
than, and, therefore, preferable to, "Liddell-Scott," in any case.

Back in the day, there was a black jazz pianist who spelled his name
"Johnny Lytel" Among us blacks, he was known as "Johnny LIE Tell."
However, from time to time, I've also heard this name pronounced as
"Little," causing me to think that, perhaps, the name was actually
spelled "Lytle" or, perhaps, even "Lyttle" and I recall it as "Lytel"
only because I was primed to see the name spelled in the former
manner, that is, "Lytel," by DJ's who unanimously used the former
pronunciation. Unfortunately,    Lytel?/Lytle? was a one-hit wonder
and his was one of the LP's that that former girlfriend refused to
give back. Hence, I've never been able to verify the spelling, let
alone the pronunciation.


On 1/31/08, 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:      Liddell (was: Pronouncing drug names (w. note for Wilson))
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Wilson said:
> '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?'
> Pravda;  and no, I *am* aware of the after-effects of slavery and segregation.
> I should have been clearer:  my question wasn't why African-Americans in
> particular should pronounce these words differently from whites in particular
> (any question like that probably can't be answered in a generalised way:  it
> depends on the communities involved in each case, as you implied).  What I
> meant was, why should different native speakers have different intuitions about
> how to pronounce words of this type?  I think Tom provided a clue to an answer
> when he pointed out that in English syllables with double orthographic
> consonants tend to attract stress.  I'm sure that accounts for what
> (gratifyingly) seems to be a common error wrt Henry Liddell.  On the other
> hand, the default stress of English is penultimate.  So there are the two
> explanations for the two intuitions.
> Later in the discussion, Larry and Mark talked about Dean Henry Liddell of
> Christ Church.  It's his name on the building owned by my *alma mater*, which
> *is* Christ Church.  And, as a side-note to a side-note, it's interesting that
> I (following the lead of my teachers, I think) have always referred to his and
> Scott's dictionary as 'Liddell and Scott', not 'Liddell-Scott'.  The version
> with 'and' is what's on the spine of my copy;  not sure for how many editions /
> print-runs that's been true.
> Damien Hall
> University of Pennsylvania
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