[Ads-l] "Niger" or "Niger"?

Thu Oct 19 15:00:52 UTC 2017

I guess pronouncing Niger to rhyme with Tiger, as in The Mikado, is no longer a preferred option.  Of course, since Gilbert also rhymed lily with die, it’s possible that standard usage was not his first consideration.

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: "Niger" or "Niger"?

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> On Oct 19, 2017, at 10:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>> wrote:
> In my day, people said "NYE-jer." Nowadays, except for a courageous
> journalist in the Rose Garden recently, they're all saying "Nee-ZHAIR."
> Sounds so much more sophisticated, _non_?
> When was the big switch? The Random House College Dictionary of 1982 gives
> only "NYE-jer." I first heard Nee-ZHAIR" in the early '80s.
> JL

Over the years, I’ve mostly heard Nee-ZHAIR (with varying attempts to reproduce a uvular [r]) in the not all that frequent mentions of the country I can remember. I assumed preserving the French stress pattern and the always popular /Z/ were partly used to distinguish it from its much larger and more frequently cited neighbor Nigeria. I see AHD5 gives Jon’s pronunciation and mine in that order.

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