often / sophomore (was: Pronuncations)

Ann Burlingham ann at BURLINGHAMBOOKS.COM
Mon Jan 19 20:09:54 UTC 2009

On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 1:40 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:

> this one we definitely have discussed, in passing, in connection with
> "southmore".  i pointed out that american dictionaries generally seem
> to list two- and three-syllable variants.  i myself find the three-
> syllable variant (which is clearly the older pronunciation, since
> "sophomore" is a greek-drived composite, "sopho" -- "soph" 'wise',
> with the greek connective "-o" -- plus "more" 'stupid') awkward; in
> fact, it sounds to me like a spelling pronunciation!  (similarly for
> the three-syllable pronunciation of "opera", and also for some other
> words with variants having, or not having, a medial schwa).

I was surprised anyone here found the 3-syllable version the standard;
the only person I've ever taken note of saying it with all syllables
is my 81-year-old mother, and it's always struck me as unusual, and a
little affected or old-fashioned, to say the least. I asked round here
- western New Yorkers - and we use two syllables.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list