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

Salikoko S. Mufwene mufw at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Oct 19 20:05:18 UTC 2017

The Nee-ZHAIR pronunciation is also consistent with the shift to "Côte 
d'Ivoire" [ko:t divwaR] from "Ivory Coast". In the case of "Niger", the 
pronunciation applies to the country's name only, not to the Niger 
River, which has kept the traditional English pronunciation. These 
changes in pronunciation are political statements of some sort, I think, 
initiated by the political leaders of these States.

On 10/19/2017 9:42 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> On Oct 19, 2017, at 10:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter<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.
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -http://www.americandialect.org

Salikoko S. Mufwenes-mufwene at uchicago.edu
The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
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Chicago, IL 60637, USA

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

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