Miscellaneous language questions

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Mega85
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:08 pm UTC

According to merriam-webster dictionary the American "math" is older than the British "maths".

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/math (1847)

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/maths (1911)

Did the British originally use "math" then thought it was more logical to keep the "s" in "mathematics", and start using "maths"?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:33 pm UTC

M/b we jus dint abbrv til l8r, & thn we hd 2 kp th wrd's impl. pl.?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Lazar » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:05 pm UTC

Google's Ngrams are interesting: in the American corpus, "math" seems to have been totally dominant for as long as either word has been around, but in the British corpus, "math" also appears to have been dominant until "maths" narrowly overtook it around 1990. That seems weird to me – I wonder if there's some confounding factor at play, like American texts being included.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:26 pm UTC

Does Ngrams only search for complete words or might it also include "math" as a subset of word like "mathematics" and "aftermath"?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:52 pm UTC

I'm not very familiar with Google n-grams, but checking "case insensitive" gives a very different graph. Too much for me to really believe that it's just a difference of case. Does anyone know why that is?

Soupspoon wrote:M/b we jus dint abbrv til l8r, & thn we hd 2 kp th wrd's impl. pl.?

The word was never implied to be plural though. No one says "Mathematics are...".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:20 am UTC

Separate mathematical methodologies (from simple primary school arithmetic through algebra and trigonometry and onwards to calculus/integration/differentiation, matrices, etc) in my mind form a grouping of related but non-singular components within the range of mathematics.

"I am learning all kinds of new maths" is an example treatment that demonstrates a practical form of the plural that I tend to think of it (uncountable as it the word may officially be). Perhaps influenced as much by the "looks like a plural" short-form that I am habituated to, whilst a phrase such "there is a greater math to be learnt" (which looks absolutely horrible, to my own biased eyes, but I dare to presume does not to those of opposing inclination) handles it in the more singular (if not monolithic) manner...

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:44 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:"I am learning all kinds of new maths" is an example treatment that demonstrates a practical form of the plural that I tend to think of it (uncountable as it the word may officially be).

That sentence does not demonstrate grammatical plurality. "I am learning all kinds of new math" is also perfectly valid. The noun in that position can be either plural or singular, and it does not affect anything else in the sentence.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:21 am UTC

Derek wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:"I am learning all kinds of new maths" is an example treatment that demonstrates a practical form of the plural that I tend to think of it (uncountable as it the word may officially be).

That sentence does not demonstrate grammatical plurality. "I am learning all kinds of new math" is also perfectly valid. The noun in that position can be either plural or singular, and it does not affect anything else in the sentence.

I partially disagree, and that's mutually exclusive with the elements that I obviously did not explain well enough.

For the first part "I am buying all kinds of new dogs" (in its clumsy way) is more accurately pluralised than "I am buying all kinds of new dog". But at 2am, I seem to be unable to come up with a convetsion of phrase that is totally satisfactory. (The latter does have a valid sense, much like "men"/"man" when interchanged, but in a different manner.)

For the second, I was not saying it was being used as plural, just that it makes one (oneself, certainly) think in the plural. "Mathematics" looks like a grouping, "Maths" likewise. Singular-looking "Math" (outside of Anathem) makes the impression (this side of the digital divide) of a singular atom from the whole mass of non-homogenous mathematics, and really makes little sense in personal semiotic sense. (Acknowledging that YMMV. Or, indeed that YMDV.)


These reasons (on so little sleep) aren't intended to be persuasive, though, just explanative.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:27 pm UTC

It seems to me like "mathematics" naturally truncates to "math".

"math(ematics)" - "math"
"bic(ycle)" - "bike"
"gym(nasium)" - "gym"
"ed(ucation)" - "ed"
"gas(oline)" - "gas"
"petrol(eum)" - "petrol"
"mic(rophone)" - "mike"
"sax(ophone)" - "sax"
"tele(vision)" - "telly"
"deli(catessen)" - "deli"

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:29 pm UTC

None of those other things look like they're plurals, though - and when pluralised, you put an "s" on the abbreviation (i.e. "bikes", "gyms"). You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:34 pm UTC

flicky1991 wrote:None of those other things look like they're plurals, though - and when pluralised, you put an "s" on the abbreviation (i.e. "bikes", "gyms"). You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".


Well, "spectacles" (old name for glasses) truncates to "specs", so I guess this doesn't apply to "mathematics". "Spectacles", like "glasses", however is considered plural. "spectacles are", "glasses are".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:49 pm UTC

You could talk about "physics", perhaps. Except that the common abbreviation to "phys" is ambiguous. But it's again a (as I perceive!) nebulous grouping of narrower fields. But it deals with the same "-ikos" original root suffix.

Mechanics? ("Mech"?) Cybernetics ("Cyber"?). Not looking good.

But there are just so many words that end in "-ic" (differently obtained) that pluralise into "-ics". Relics. Bishoprics. Tunics. Mystics. Heuristics. Ecliptics. Hard to find abbreviations. "Heus", maybe, or "Ecs"/"Eccles". Then we get into the difference between the pluralised "-ic"s and the naturally uncountable "-ics". Where does "eugenics" sit? (...you can talk about a "eugenic solution", though it might better not to in polite company.) Cryonics? (Again, "cryonic" is everyday, but is "cryonics" a plurality like relic or asthmatic would be, or the word that "mathmatics" is in the absence of any obvious usage being made of "mathmatic". And "a physic(k(e))" is closer to being a medical doctor than anything relating to the non-biological "natural sciences".) Can you have an "ethic". I think so, but, it sounds strange. And none of these parallel words quite do either the "math" or "maths" abbreviation, for easy comparison of linguistic evolution...

Unless you can come up with something, before someone doubtless comes up with an equally definitive counter-example. Although there are clearly deceased equines being struck in punishment, here.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:59 pm UTC

The singular "ethic" definitely gets use. You will hear about the importance of "a good work ethic," for instance.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:18 am UTC

flicky1991 wrote:You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".

"economics" to "econ"?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:24 am UTC

How would you syllabify RP "marry"? Something I've read said that it can be syllabified as either [mæ.ɹi] or [mæɹ.i] considering that neither [mæ] nor [mæɹ] are permitted as monosyllabic words in RP.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:45 am UTC

[ˈwɛd]?

(Can't find a source for it, but I'm sure that's the U version of your non-U query, which some might say goes hand in hand with RP.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Lazar » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:21 am UTC

Mega85 wrote:How would you syllabify RP "marry"? Something I've read said that it can be syllabified as either [mæ.ɹi] or [mæɹ.i] considering that neither [mæ] nor [mæɹ] are permitted as monosyllabic words in RP.

As someone whose dialect aligns with RP on this point, I'd go with [ˈmæ.ɹi]. Neither one really feels right, but there's at least a little precedent for syllables ending in [æ] – e.g. "tattoo" [tʰæˈtʰʊu] – whereas [mæɹ] feels like a stronger phonotactic violation to me. On the other hand, you could also argue that it's ambisyllabic, and that nice neat syllable breaks just may not always be possible.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:36 am UTC

ThirdParty wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".

"economics" to "econ"?

Ah, I hadn't heard of that one. I guess a place that uses "econ" would similarly have no problem with "math", then.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:01 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
Mega85 wrote:How would you syllabify RP "marry"? Something I've read said that it can be syllabified as either [mæ.ɹi] or [mæɹ.i] considering that neither [mæ] nor [mæɹ] are permitted as monosyllabic words in RP.

As someone whose dialect aligns with RP on this point, I'd go with [ˈmæ.ɹi]. Neither one really feels right, but there's at least a little precedent for syllables ending in [æ] – e.g. "tattoo" [tʰæˈtʰʊu] – whereas [mæɹ] feels like a stronger phonotactic violation to me. On the other hand, you could also argue that it's ambisyllabic, and that nice neat syllable breaks just may not always be possible.


As an RP speaker, whilst you're right that [mæ] wouldn't be a valid word on its own, it seems fine to me as the stressed syllable in a multi-syllable word. [mæɹ] as a syllable seems completely and utterly wrong to me in all contexts.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:46 pm UTC

Derek wrote:I'm not very familiar with Google n-grams, but checking "case insensitive" gives a very different graph. Too much for me to really believe that it's just a difference of case. Does anyone know why that is?
You can search the cases separately, and the case insensitive results definitely match that.

The surprising thing is how many more results for "Math" there are than for all the other versions in British English, whereas American English has "Math" and "math" much closer to equal.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:56 pm UTC

flicky1991 wrote:
ThirdParty wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".

"economics" to "econ"?

Ah, I hadn't heard of that one. I guess a place that uses "econ" would similarly have no problem with "math", then.

It's a common abbreviation. For example if you were talking about taking college classes, you might say "I'm taking Econ 101", or "I'm taking Macroecon".

I've also see, less often, "linguistics" abbreviated to "ling".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:58 pm UTC

Is it more common in America? I have a friend who did Economics at uni and don't think I ever heard him use the term.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:41 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:
ThirdParty wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:You'd have to show me a plural-looking singular that truncates without the "s" to convince me that the same applies to "mathematics".

"economics" to "econ"?

Ah, I hadn't heard of that one. I guess a place that uses "econ" would similarly have no problem with "math", then.

It's a common abbreviation. For example if you were talking about taking college classes, you might say "I'm taking Econ 101", or "I'm taking Macroecon".

I've also see, less often, "linguistics" abbreviated to "ling".


"Home economics" (the high school cooking classes) is commonly abbreviated (around here) to "home ec".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:46 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:"Home economics" (the high school cooking classes) is commonly abbreviated (around here) to "home ec".

Yes, Home Cconomics is invariably "Home Ec". But all actual economics classes were "econ".

I've also seen "econ" used extensively in video games, though "eco" is also used in this case.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:45 pm UTC

Why do we say "scuba" as /skubə/ "skooba" and not /skjubə/ "skyooba"? We say "Cuba" as /kjubə/.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:57 am UTC

Mega85 wrote:Why do we say "scuba" as /skubə/ "skooba" and not /skjubə/ "skyooba"? We say "Cuba" as /kjubə/.
Hmm. Interesting question. At first I thought it might be because it's an acronym, but "CUNY" is /kjuni/. Then I thought it might be the "s", but "skew" is /skju/. So now I don't know.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby pogrmman » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:46 am UTC

ThirdParty wrote:
Mega85 wrote:Why do we say "scuba" as /skubə/ "skooba" and not /skjubə/ "skyooba"? We say "Cuba" as /kjubə/.
Hmm. Interesting question. At first I thought it might be because it's an acronym, but "CUNY" is /kjuni/. Then I thought it might be the "s", but "skew" is /skju/. So now I don't know.


Maybe because the "U" stands for "underwater" in SCUBA, but "univeristy" in CUNY. The u in underwater doesn't have any /ju/ sound, but university does.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby chridd » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:57 am UTC

pogrmman wrote:
ThirdParty wrote:
Mega85 wrote:Why do we say "scuba" as /skubə/ "skooba" and not /skjubə/ "skyooba"? We say "Cuba" as /kjubə/.
Hmm. Interesting question. At first I thought it might be because it's an acronym, but "CUNY" is /kjuni/. Then I thought it might be the "s", but "skew" is /skju/. So now I don't know.


Maybe because the "U" stands for "underwater" in SCUBA, but "univeristy" in CUNY. The u in underwater doesn't have any /ju/ sound, but university does.
Then why isn't it /skʌbə/ (or /skʌbæ/)? (Are there any acronyms where the pronunciation of the words abbreviated affects the pronunciation of the acronym?)
My guess would be that whoever first used the word happened to pronounce it that way. Or perhaps it looks enough like a foreign word that people pronounce it as such?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:25 am UTC

/skj/ is a pretty complicated consonant cluster. All the pronunciations you gave would be plausible given the spelling, but /sku-/ is the easiest to say. There are no perfect comparisons to lend one particular pronunciation more weight ("Cuba" is a Spanish proper noun, "CUNY" is an acronym and not widely known, neither starts with an s, and "skew" is spelled with a different vowel). So it's not surprising that pronunciation took the path of least resistance as it were.

Presumably "SCUBA" was originally used as an initialism (es cee yu bee a) before it became an acronym and then a word. I doubt the group of people first saying it did so uniformly or with much forethought.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:51 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:/skj/ is a pretty complicated consonant cluster. There are no perfect comparisons to lend one particular pronunciation more weight ("Cuba" is a Spanish proper noun, "CUNY" is an acronym and not widely known, neither starts with an s, and "skew" is spelled with a different vowel).
I wouldn't expect native English speakers to have trouble producing that cluster. In addition to "skew", there's words like "rescue", words like "excuse", and words like "miniscule". I've never heard anyone drop the yod in those.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:43 pm UTC

Not quite pointed out (Eebster touches on it), but the "ew" in "skew" is a factor in the /ju:/ (the pronunciation of "skewiff" can be either /skju:.ɪf/ or /sku:.wɪf/, give or take some other phonetic features).

I think, though, that the A in SCUBA works double-duty as the post-consonant-vowel modifier to the pre-consonant-vowel, as well as a trail-off

"SCUB" /skub/ like "rub" /rub/
"SCUBA" /sku:bə/ like "Aruba" /a.ru:bə/

Also "lub" -> "lube" /lu:b/, but that doesn't explain "cube", though (SCUBE = /skju:b/ or /sku:b/? Or just bottle it with /es.kju:b/?) or any of it mesh with tuba /tju:bə/ that supports Mega85's original confusion. But the "sk" probably reinforces the /j/less aspect to the following..

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:14 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Not quite pointed out (Eebster touches on it), but the "ew" in "skew" is a factor in the /ju:/ (the pronunciation of "skewiff" can be either /skju:.ɪf/ or /sku:.wɪf/, give or take some other phonetic features).

I think, though, that the A in SCUBA works double-duty as the post-consonant-vowel modifier to the pre-consonant-vowel, as well as a trail-off

"SCUB" /skub/ like "rub" /rub/
"SCUBA" /sku:bə/ like "Aruba" /a.ru:bə/

Also "lub" -> "lube" /lu:b/, but that doesn't explain "cube", though (SCUBE = /skju:b/ or /sku:b/? Or just bottle it with /es.kju:b/?) or any of it mesh with tuba /tju:bə/ that supports Mega85's original confusion. But the "sk" probably reinforces the /j/less aspect to the following..


"lube" is /lu:b/ rather than /lju:b/ because of the "l". /lj/ is an impossible cluster in English (at least for most speakers).

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:22 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:"lube" is /lu:b/ rather than /lju:b/ because of the "l". /lj/ is an impossible cluster in English (at least for most speakers).
Well, you're right in that it's a bit sticky. But not so impossible, or else what should I be saying in lieu of /lju:/?

(/lɛf/? ;))

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:31 pm UTC

Um, according to my favorite dictionary, "SCUBA", "tuba", and "lieu" are all /ju/ in Britain and /u/ in the U.S. I thought the puzzle was what "SCUBA" is doing in this category when U.S. English doesn't usually yod-drop after /k/ the way it does after /t/ or /l/.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:33 pm UTC

ThirdParty wrote:Um, according to my favorite dictionary, "SCUBA", "tuba", and "lieu" are all /ju/ in Britain and /u/ in the U.S. I thought the puzzle was what "SCUBA" is doing in this category when U.S. English doesn't usually yod-drop after /k/ the way it does after /t/ or /l/.


Yeah, Britons pronounce /j/ after /d/, /n/ and /t/ in "due", "new" and "tune", but I didn't think they pronounced /j/ after /l/ as in "lute" or "lieu". Maybe it varies whether they do or not.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:50 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:Yeah, Britons pronounce /j/ after /d/, /n/ and /t/ in "due", "new" and "tune", but I didn't think they pronounced /j/ after /l/ as in "lute" or "lieu". Maybe it varies whether they do or not.

FTFY?

On the previous point, never heard /skju:ba/ (from anyone not making a deliberate "hey, why don't websay it this way?" joke, or actual point as per this discussion's genesis), here in the UK. Maybe pre-existing cultural americanisation of pronunciation?

And I definitely say "lieu" with the /j/, as mentioned above. But "lute" is without. Homophonic to "loot", or maybe slightly more stressed-lower on the vowel.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Angua » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:53 pm UTC

What about ludicrous? I say that as /j/ I'm not sure about lute, both sound ok to me.

I don't think I've ever heard SCUBA with the u pronounced that was though.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:57 pm UTC

Loodikrus.

(And rather than edit again, it occured to me that "lute/loot" (semi-long vowel) differ as per "buck/book" (shorter vowel, each). Normally indistinguishable, but subtly different if you're trying to say them with the same background intonation.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:21 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Mega85 wrote:Yeah, Britons pronounce /j/ after /d/, /n/ and /t/ in "due", "new" and "tune", but I didn't think they pronounced /j/ after /l/ as in "lute" or "lieu". Maybe it varies whether they do or not.

FTFY?

On the previous point, never heard /skju:ba/ (from anyone not making a deliberate "hey, why don't websay it this way?" joke, or actual point as per this discussion's genesis), here in the UK. Maybe pre-existing cultural americanisation of pronunciation?

And I definitely say "lieu" with the /j/, as mentioned above. But "lute" is without. Homophonic to "loot", or maybe slightly more stressed-lower on the vowel.


What about "Lucy", "lunar" and "lunatic"? Do you have a /j/ in those words? Or is "lieu" the only word that starts with a /lj/ cluster for you.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby chridd » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:56 pm UTC

ThirdParty wrote:Um, according to my favorite dictionary, "SCUBA", "tuba", and "lieu" are all /ju/ in Britain and /u/ in the U.S. I thought the puzzle was what "SCUBA" is doing in this category when U.S. English doesn't usually yod-drop after /k/ the way it does after /t/ or /l/.
I don't know that a typical American with yod-dropping would know which consonants it happens after; I think they'd be more likely just to think of 〈u〉 (in contexts where it's normally long) as sometimes being pronounced /u/ and other times being pronounced /ju/, which means that if someone encounters a new word in spelling, they wouldn't necessarily apply the yod-dropping rule correctly.
~ chri d. d. /tʃɹɪ.di.di/ (Phonotactics? What phonotactics?) · ze or they · Forum game scores · avatar from flicky1991
mittfh wrote:I wish this post was very quotable...
flicky1991 wrote:In both cases the quote is "I'm being quoted too much!"


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