Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Sun Feb 28 18:08:56 UTC 2010

>From Mark Mandel.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mark Mandel <thnidu at>
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2010 12:08:23 -0500
Subject: Re: chill-LAY/chee-Lay
To: djh514 at

An additional possibility: misunderstanding of a correction.

To start with, there's a lot of variation between "i" and "e" in the spelling of
* chil_ peppers
* chil_ (the food, con carne or otherwise)
and a lot of confusion about the spelling and pronunciation of
* Chile (the country)

So imagine the following dialogue:
 - Have you got the script ready about the earthquake in /'tSIli/?
[homophonous with "chilly"]
 - Yeah, but it's not /tSI'li:/ ["chill-LEE"], it's /tSI'ley/
["chill-LAY"]. [emphasizing the vowel being corrected]
 - Chill-LAY. Thanks, got it.
  [soon, on the air] A huge earthquake rocked Chill-LAY this morning...

Mark A. Mandel

On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 8:04 AM, Damien Hall <djh514 at> wrote:
> 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
> --
> Damien Hall
> University of York
> Department of Language and Linguistic Science
> Heslington
> YO10 5DD
> UK
> Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
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