Prayleen vs. Prahline
Posted: 30 December 2007 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I am writing a small essay on the praline, and have come to a point that I would like to research, but wouldn’t even know how to go about looking it up.

I know that the word praline comes from an anglicization of the MarĂ©chal Cesar du Plessis-Praslin’s name, (prAH-leen)—and that the praline gained popularity in the states beginning in New Orleans at the hands of Creole chefs (perhaps adding another level to this question altogether) but I am wondering if the common pronunciation of “pray-leen” is a result of American speakers trying not to sound “fancy.” I realize that I may be painting a specific linguistic phenomenon with a crude brush when I describe it this way—which is the reason for my post. Is there an established pattern of this so called de-fancy-ing? (Oh, heavens.) And Does it have a name? Are there other examples?

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Posted: 30 December 2007 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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As for the pronunciation, I suppose /prejlin/ ("pray-leen") is just a spelling pronunciation, no more or less fancy than “saline” /sejlin/. There are other pronunciations still in use, I believe. MW3 shows /pralin/ ("prah-leen") and /prOlin/ ("praw-leen") as well as /prejlin/ ("pray-leen"). [I have converted the pronunciation symbols; a purist may quibble about the precise vowel values.]

I doubt there is any de-fancification involved, although I would keep an open mind on the subject in the lack of a detailed historical record of pronunciation preferences. I think if anything US pronunciations tend to adhere to the sounds of the original languages more than UK pronunciations do (e.g., consider “Don Quixote").

As for the etymology, I don’t think English “praline” originated as an “anglicization” of anything; I think it was adopted intact from French. My poor-man’s OED shows the English word (spelled “prawlin") from 1727. On-line ATILF shows the French word (spelled “prasline") from 1662. The modern French pronunciation of “praline” is /pralin/ (with a French “r” of course); I think “Praslin” should be pronounced (in modern French) /pralE~/ (no “-een” sound but rather a nasalized “-eh” or so).

[ Edited: 30 December 2007 08:38 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 30 December 2007 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I guess I was just jumping the gun—my Oxfords New Am. shows the pronunciation as pray-leen, where as I would have assumed given the Louisiana preference for praw-line (from what little I’ve been able to find) that it came over to the states as prasline, and (hence my anglicization assumption) that we dumped the silent ‘s,’ and from there it became, as you said, a spelling pronunciation.

Bummer.

[ Edited: 30 December 2007 09:56 PM by JDayne ]
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