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word sought
Posted: 18 January 2014 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Fair enough!
[rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb] [[extra verbiage apparently needed]]

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Posted: 18 January 2014 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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As a little boy, I was --- like Syntinen Laulu --- a precocious reader, and knew many words before I’d ever heard them spoken. Before being otherwise instructed, I would certainly have inclined to say im-ous, in-mous, im-tent. My mother (who acquired her English pronunciation at Miss Calvert’s School for Young Ladies) was something of a prescriptivist; the three words mentioned above may not have been in her vocabulary, but when she heard me say ”vaygaries” she corrected me firmly, with a rhyming couplet:
“your vocal vagaries
Have killed my canaries”.

Does anybody pronounce vagaries canarywise nowadays?

It’s the inconsistencies --- in both pronunciation and grammar --- that make English a difficult language to learn (I mean, of course, English that sounds like English ;-)

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Posted: 18 January 2014 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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AHD gives both pronunciations.  Oxford Dictionaries only give /ˈveɪg(ə)ri/.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Who could have known that Gilbert and Sullivan would come to the rescue ...  in the form of Iolanthe?

ENSEMBLE.

PEERS.  FAIRIES.
Go away, madam, etc.  Let us stay, madam, etc.
(Exit PHYLLIS.)

QUEEN.  Oh! Chancellor unwary
It’s highly necessary
Your tongue to teach
Respectful speech
Your attitude to vary!

Your badinage so airy,
Your manner arbitrary,
Are out of place
When face to face
With an influential Fairy.

ALL THE PEERS We never knew
(aside).  We were talking to
An influential Fairy!

LORD CH.  A plague on this vagary,
I’m in a nice quandary!
Of hasty tone
With dames unknown
I ought to be more chary;

It seems that she’s a fairy
From Andersen’s library,
And I took her for
The proprietor
Of a Ladies’ Seminary!

The only way to make it scan correctly is how Lionello pronounces it. All these years since eighth grade Stage Class I thought the pronunciation was poetic license, a vaGARy if you please, of Messrs. G & B.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I remember being struck, reading Elinor Wylie’s lines Thus absence chills us to apparent death / And withers up our virtue, but together / We grow beyond vagaries of the weather when I was young, by the fact that she must have stressed the second syllable of the word.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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My favorite entry in the “unpronounceable learned word” category is congeries, for which the OED (in an entry from 1891) gives the pronunciation /kənˈdʒɪərɪiːz/ (kən-JEER-ih-eez), which I dutifully assimilated so long ago there is no hope of my converting to the standard American /ˈkandʒəriːz/ (KAN-jer-eez), the only one given by M-W (AHD has both), which is far easier to say.  Fortunately, it is such a rare word I never have occasion to say it.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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thanks, lh! that’s indeed a rare word ---one I’ve never heard, or had to say; and in my head, I’ve always pronounced it as though it were a French word. One lives and learns.

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Posted: 19 January 2014 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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From the sublime to the ridiculous!  All my early life (not 16th century, I hasten to add!) I used ‘mischievious,’ as did my family and acquaintances.  While I now conform with some hesitancy, I still hear the nonstandard version being used.

Merriam-Webster says:

Usage Discussion of MISCHIEVOUS
A pronunciation \mis-ˈchē-vē-əs\ and a consequent spelling mischievious are of long standing: evidence for the spelling goes back to the 16th century. Our pronunciation files contain modern attestations ranging from dialect speakers to Herbert Hoover. But both the pronunciation and the spelling are still considered nonstandard.

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Posted: 19 January 2014 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Yes, mischievious is a sterling example of a word that’s only considered wrong because it’s considered wrong—there’s no reason on earth that such a widely used form should not be considered simply an alternate, like aluminum/aluminium or the two pronunciations of the e- at the start of economics.

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Posted: 19 January 2014 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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a word that’s only considered wrong because it’s considered wrong

If, as is often stated here, logic and etymology are disallowed as reasons, what else is there?

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Posted: 19 January 2014 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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a word that’s only considered wrong because it’s considered wrong

Hmm. What are some of the _other_ reasons that words are considered wrong?

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Posted: 19 January 2014 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I’m not sure what either of you are getting at.  There is no good reason why a word so widely used should be considered wrong.

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Posted: 28 January 2014 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I recently found from a dictionary that mien rhymes with mean. As far as I hope I’ve never used it in conversation. It must have sounded French to me but isn’t:

1505–15; probably aphetic variant of obsolete demean bearing, demean ; spelled with -ie- to distinguish it from mean

Also in my nonage I assumed mores rhymed with bores.

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Posted: 29 January 2014 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I recently found from a dictionary that mien rhymes with mean.

Well, is identical in sound; that’s not usually considered a proper rhyme in English.

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Posted: 29 January 2014 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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languagehat - 19 January 2014 06:09 AM

Yes, mischievious is a sterling example of a word that’s only considered wrong because it’s considered wrong—there’s no reason on earth that such a widely used form should not be considered simply an alternate, like aluminum/aluminium or the two pronunciations of the e- at the start of economics.

Please elaborate on this.

I understand that aluminium, is a British variant of aluminum.  Mischievious, however, is not considered a variant in many dictionaries, nor is it entered. I did find it in my OED print amongst other nebulous spellings.

I understand that the use of mischievious, as it is transcribed, would not be wrong if it were pronounced as mis-ˈchē-vē-əs.  But I wonder how many people write mischievous, but pronounce is as, mis-ˈchē-vē-əs.

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