"The best word ever"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 26 17:13:56 UTC 2012

I find the conclusive argumentation a bit specious:

So why, in the end, "diphthong? Which is also to ask: Why not "hornswoggle"?
"That was a tough call," McCagg concedes. But "that silent 'h' in diphthong made all the difference."

Is the h in "diphthong" truly silent?  The "preferred" pronunciation in the dictionaries I've checked, and more important in my own preferred pronunciation, is "DIF-thong", not "DIP-thong", which is what you do when your thong…needs dipping.  If the "h" is silent in /dIf/, so is the "p", by parity of argument.  And if they're both silent, they don't turn into an /f/ but a /  /, yielding the unattested "dithong" pronunciation (unless the t and h are both silent).  By the same token, there exists a robustly attested if dispreferred pronunciation for "hornswoggle"--the Cockney one--on which the /h/ really is silent.   QED.


On Nov 26, 2012, at 9:05 AM, David A. Daniel wrote:

> I thought it was interesting, maybe y'all will too...
> http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/09/here-it-is-the-best-wo
> rd-ever/262348/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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