Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Sun Feb 28 13:04:37 UTC 2010


Herb asked about a possible false foreignism by people who pronounce
_Chile_ with final stress. I do speak Spanish and it does sound like a
false foreignism, as the native pronunciation is with penultimate stress. I
learned Peninsular Spanish, but where in the Hispanic world you come from
doesn't, I think, make any difference here, as, AFAIK, primary stress in
all varieties of Spanish is penultimate by default; the exceptions are:

- certain well-defined endings (_-ez_, as in _rapidez_ /rapi'deT/ 'speed',
is the only one that springs to mind, but surely there are others); and

- where primary stress is marked on another syllable by the acute accent.

Another explanation for the pronunciation of the country name with final
stress is that people who so pronounce it are making a false analogy from
the adjective/noun _Chilean_, which, of course, does have stress on the
middle syllable; but that argument would have to assume that these people
were more familiar with the adjectival form than with the country name. I
think that may be unlikely, so Occam's Razor eliminates that, and makes the
false foreignism more likely.


In BrE the country always used to be homonymous with 'chilly', and the
adjective was therefore pronounced 'CHILLy-un'. This morning, though, I
noticed a BBC newscaster saying 'chill-AY-un'. I'm sure it wasn't the first
time it had happened - merely the first time I had noticed it - but
nevertheless it'll be interesting to see how that evolves now that Chile is
once more, sadly, in the headlines.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
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