8 pronunciation errors that made the English language what it is today
Posted: 11 March 2014 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Some of the examples and technical terms were new to me. A numpire! Guardian.

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Posted: 11 March 2014 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, I was familiar with much of this but some of it is new to me.

Your grandmother might not like the way you pronounce tune. She might place a delicate “y” sound before the vowel, saying tyune where you would say chune. The same goes for other words like tutor or duke. But this process, called affrication, is happening, like it or not. Within a single generation it has pretty much become standard English.

I can recall people pronouncing Susan as Syoosan rather than Soosan. What has never ceased to astonish me is that words like blue and flute were once pronounced blyoo and flyute. Try getting your tongue round those! Small wonder the pronunciation changed.

[ Edited: 11 March 2014 09:21 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 11 March 2014 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Oprah Winfrey’s legal name was Orpah, named after Naomi’s daughter-in-law who returned to Moab.

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Posted: 11 March 2014 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Is it right that there are no vowels in written Hebrew so nowadays most Old Testament names are posited and theoretical? There must be inherent vowel markers considering the number of vowels in Naomi and Moab - it can’t have just been NM and MB.

aldi, I’ve only ever heard Susan pronounced SOOzun (dating back to the ‘60s though I might be betraying my youth here and never hearing my Nan say it ;)).

[ Edited: 11 March 2014 10:57 AM by venomousbede ]
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Posted: 11 March 2014 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Here‘s a basic Introduction to Hebrew Vowels that will give you the basic idea, and here‘s a Wikipedia article you may find useful.

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Posted: 11 March 2014 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Your grandmother might not like the way you pronounce tune. She might place a delicate “y” sound before the vowel, saying tyune where you would say chune. The same goes for other words like tutor or duke. But this process, called affrication, is happening, like it or not. Within a single generation it has pretty much become standard English.

You can still hear some broadcasters say nyews. There’s someone on NPR who pronounces it very distinctly like that. ISTR hearing in a linguistics class that in olden days the nyews was required pronunciation in certain parts of the country. Specifically Los Angeles I think. I could be wrong.

Is it fair to say that most or all vowels in English are to some extent “gliding vowels” or diphthongs? This, to me, is really evident in a foreign accent (in English) where the speaker’s native language has very clear or pure vowels.

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Posted: 11 March 2014 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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But the “l” in folk, talk and walk used to be pronounced.

The “l” in “talk” was alive and well in London in the 80’s.

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Posted: 12 March 2014 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Your grandmother might not like the way you pronounce tune. She might place a delicate “y” sound before the vowel, saying tyune where you would say chune. The same goes for other words like tutor or duke. But this process, called affrication, is happening, like it or not. Within a single generation it has pretty much become standard English.

Not this side of the pond, it hasn’t!

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Posted: 12 March 2014 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Maybe Standard English isn’t spoken on that side of the Pond?

;-)

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Posted: 12 March 2014 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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venomousbede - 11 March 2014 10:47 AM

aldi, I’ve only ever heard Susan pronounced SOOzun (dating back to the ‘60s though I might be betraying my youth here and never hearing my Nan say it ;)).

It lasted longest among the upper and upper-middle classes. You could still hear it pronounced as Syoosan on the BBC occasionally in the early 60s.

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Posted: 12 March 2014 10:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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In Leftpondia is mainly pronounced /tu:n/.

(some regional exceptions exist)

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Posted: 17 March 2014 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks for those links, LH, but the really old Hebrew does seem to be a bit of a mystery in some cases. I’ve been intrigued by this fragmented inscription and whether it is a case of coinfirmation bias by some scholars which Wikipedia acknowledges:

“House of David”
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The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (September 2012)
See also: Davidic line

The Tel Dan stele has found favour among those who wish to defend the biblical version of Israel’s ancient past. Its significance for this argument lies particularly in lines 8 and 9, which mention a “king of Israel” and a “house of David”. The latter is generally understood by scholars to refer to the ruling dynasty of Judah. However, although the “king of Israel” is generally accepted, the rendering of the phrase bytdwd as “house of David” is disputed by some, in part because it appears without a word-divider between the two parts.[12]

The significance of this fact, if any, is unclear – the majority of scholars argue that the author simply thought of “House of David” as a single word – but some have argued that “dwd” could be a name for a god ("beloved"), or could mean “uncle” (a word with a rather wider meaning in ancient times than it has today), or that the whole phrase might be a name for Jerusalem (so that the author might be claiming to have killed the son of the king of Jerusalem rather than the son of the king from the “house of David”.[13][14]

Other possible meanings have been suggested: it may be a place-name, or the name of a god, or an epithet.[12] Lawrence J. Mykytiuk argues against the possibility that the term bytdwd could refer to the name of a god, cultic object, epithet or a place and concludes that in line with ancient Aramaic and Assyrian patterns for geopolitical terms, the phrase “House of David” refers to a Davidic dynasty or to the land ruled by a Davidic dynasty. [15] But even if (as seems likely)[16] the correct translation is “House of David”, Francesca Stavrakopoulou argues that it does not logically support the assumption that the Bible’s David was a historical figure.[12

]

I like the idea of it being resolved impartially on Wikipedia’s talk page.

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Posted: 17 March 2014 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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That’s a very interesting Wikipedia article on confirmation bias (thanks, venomousbede) and what it says is very definitely applicable here.
The relative scarcity of testimony outside the Bible concerning the early history of Israel is a matter of constant concern for Jews, and particularly for Israelis. Every intelligent forger knows this. I believe that a few years ago, the Israel Museum paid close to a million dollars for a single decorative “pomegranate” bead from the High Priest’s costume (which was eventually proven to be false). Other religions present similar problems (firmly buttons lip).

Because of political circumstances today, there are those who would very much want that inscription to mean “House of David”, and there are those who would very much want it not to. Under such pressures, scientific objectivity tends to take a back seat.

This has little bearing on your earlier question about the pronunciation of Biblical names, venomousbede. They (and the Hebrew language) have been in continuous use for thousands of years, and their pronunciation is far from “theoretical”. It may have changed with time. So has that of Latin names - and of English ones, for that matter.

Naomi and Moab are spelt in the Bible with four letters each, not two. The article posted by languagehat makes it clear why.

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Posted: 18 March 2014 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks for those links, LH, but the really old Hebrew does seem to be a bit of a mystery in some cases.

Well, yes, and if you’d mentioned you were primarily interested in “really old Hebrew” and the alleged House of David inscription, I wouldn’t have bothered with the links I posted.

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Posted: 19 March 2014 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Well, I was also ignorant of the really new Hebrew too, LH, so, again, thanks but I had come across the Wikipedia entry for that stele entry two or three years ago and it had fired my imagination what with the arguments from both sides and what they implied.
As lionello says confirmation bias can come from either direction though I had not considered ‘against’ might come from objections to Israel nowadays. There must be more Jewish and Christian scholars who can read ancient Hebrew than there are those who can but aren’t.
Sorry about the Naomi and Moab gaffe.

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