Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 27 01:14:32 UTC 2010

Nothing peculiar about it.  A number of nouns ending in fricatives
have a voicing alternation in the plural:  thief/thieves,
sheaf/sheave's, sheath/sheathes, wife/wives, house/houses, etc.  It
goes back to Old English plurals in -as.  OE fricatives were always
voiced between vowels.  After the vowel of the plural suffix was
dropped in Middle English, the voicing alternation remained in plurals
of some nouns.


On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 4:32 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: House(s)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I believe I say (forgive the dumbed-down phonetics) "howse" but
> "how-ziz".  Is that peculiar or rare?  Am I making the plural easier
> for me to say by attaching the Z sound of the plural's S to the root's S?
> Joel
> At 1/26/2010 02:18 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>At 11:03 AM -0800 1/26/10, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>>>On Jan 26, 2010, at 9:44 AM, Larry Horn wrote:
>>>>I don't know if this has been discussed here or elsewhere, but I
>>>>noticed a radio ad this morning promoting some upcoming game by
>>>>describing the teams involved as "powerhouses", with the
>>>>pronunciation /paw at rhausIz/...
>>>/hausiz/ for the plural "houses" is common enough that you'd need to
>>>get more information about the speaker's pronunciations.
>>True for the radio announcer, but as noted I'm pretty sure I'd be
>>likely to pronounce "powerhou[s]es" with a voiceless fricative if
>>it's a metaphorical use but I'd never pronounce it that way if it's
>>used literally (as an endocentric compound, as in "lighthouses",
>>"outhouses").  Is there anyone else who shares that intuition?  If
>>it's just me, I withdraw the claim.
>>>>Arnold (or Ben), is there a Language Log posting on "powerhou[s]es"
>>>>or analogous cases?
>>>i don't recall any.
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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