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HD: Lincoln’s Language
Posted: 02 December 2012 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Link to a Ben Zimmer column.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A nice piece, but as he says, “Picky language types may yet find more to poke at,” and I have done so.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m looking forward to the film. I’m used to the fact now that directors, who take great pains to ensure historical accuracy in costumes, props, etc, will give not a thought to the language. The mispronunciation of ay is such an elementary error as is the muddling of thence and thither. Abe would not be pleased.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, on the other hand those few are the only things that stood out for me as errors in the whole movie, which is pretty impressive tribute to the pains they took with language (as described in the Zimmer piece).  There were far more times when I thought “Wow, that’s great, period-appropriate use of language!” I must say, though, I was surprised that Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t know how to pronounce “aye.” He’s Cecil Day-Lewis’s son, for heaven’s sake!

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Posted: 03 December 2012 01:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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In my London years, I was offered a job working for Cecil Day-Lewis.  I turned it down because I was offered £2 a week more elsewhere, a decision I’ve always regretted.  Looking forward very much to seeing the film Lincoln, though.

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Posted: 10 August 2013 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Only just saw this movie.

I noticed that AL pronounced righteous as /’raɪtɪəs/.

Also noticed that Bilbo says “Fuck you”, which I thought might be an anacronism.

One other thing I noticed (not strictly related to this movie) is that in an echoic chamber it is pretty silly to have people say “yea” and “nay”, given that they rhyme and the only consonants by which they differ are both non-sibilant, vocalised consonants: it would be pretty easy to mishear. Be better to insist people stick to “yes/aye” and “no/nay”. I’ll email that idea to the 19th century.

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Posted: 10 August 2013 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I must say, though, I was surprised that Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t know how to pronounce “aye.”

Should you be surprised?  How many of us move in circles where terms like “forever and aye” are used in actual speech? I’ve been speaking English for many years (occasionally with very literate people), but I’ve never heard the expression used, thought I’ve read it any number of times. Until reading this thread, I would have pronounced it to rhyme with “lye” (thanks for the enlightenment, lh. I enjoyed reading your very stimulating blog, too). I’ve heard “Annie Laurie” sung, but the singer (IIRC) sang “aye” as “eye”. I gie you my promise true, this thread will aye remember’d be.......  ;-)

I think many (perhaps most) people acquire their vocabularies more from reading than from vocal exchange. That’s certainly been the case for me.

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Posted: 11 August 2013 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Should you be surprised?  How many of us move in circles where terms like “forever and aye” are used in actual speech?

Daniel Day-Lewis, for one.  As I said above, he’s Cecil Day-Lewis’s son.

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Posted: 11 August 2013 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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One of the Democrats in this movie (Pendleton, was it?) warned of the “niggeration” of America.

I suppose this is an invention of Tony Kushner. The OED doesn’t record any instances of niggerate or any derived forms. I can find some examples online from recent years: I would imagine it is one of those ad hoc coinages that occur a few times independently: something Pendleton _might_ have said.

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Posted: 11 August 2013 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Daniel Day-Lewis, for one

And yet, nevertheless, you say he pronounced it “eye”. Of course, this may have been the actor’s way of expressing the opinion that the Lincoln family were less linguistically savvy than the Day-Lewis family.....;-)

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Posted: 11 August 2013 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It may, of course, have been the director’s decision, not DDL’s.

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Posted: 12 August 2013 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Yes, that occurred to me too.

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Posted: 12 August 2013 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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languagehat - 11 August 2013 05:50 AM

Should you be surprised?  How many of us move in circles where terms like “forever and aye” are used in actual speech?

Daniel Day-Lewis, for one.  As I said above, he’s Cecil Day-Lewis’s son.

Me for another. Grew up with the word ‘aye’ also meaning ‘always’ in lowland Scots. And pronounced ‘eye’ as well.

As in the crunchingly descriptive maxim from one of my grandparents about money having a habit of staying with the wealthy:

“The fat coo’s erse is aye weel greast”

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Posted: 12 August 2013 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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And pronounced ‘eye’ as well.

Thank you, BlackGrey. That explains “Annie Laurie”.  Let the Saxons pronounce it any way they will —it will remain aye aye......

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Posted: 13 August 2013 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Not just the Scots: I grew up a proud north of England Saxon who pronounced it “eye”.  I wonder if the Geordie (and other north east English) phrase/word “wee-ay” or however it’s spelled meaning “I agree/of course” literally means “yes, always”?

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Posted: 13 August 2013 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Lionello, well, I am a lowland Scot so probably have a fair bit of Anglo-Saxon blood in my veins!

Eliza, I am familiar with Yorkshire people using ‘aye’ for yes, but wasn’t aware that the other meaning - always - was also current there?

For clarity, I still use and hear the word daily in both senses when back in Scotland.

The always one seems to go back a fair way and the yes one may even come from the always one. Here’s what Etymonline says about the two:

aye (interj.)
“assent,” 1570s, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of I, meaning “I assent;” or an alteration of Middle English yai “yes” (see yea), or from aye (adv.) “always, ever.”

aye
“always, ever,” c.1200, from Old Norse ei ”ever" (cognate with Old English a ”always, ever"), from PIE *aiw- “vital force, life, long life, eternity” (cf. Greek aion ”age, eternity,” Latin aevum ”space of time;” see eon).

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