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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:34 pm UTC
by Monika
„Mrs“ is weird like that, too.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:42 pm UTC
by HES
Could be worse, there's also the rank "Lieutenant-Colonel" which, if you're British, has an f in it.

Throw in one of our more obscure family names and you get "Lieutenant-Colonel Featherstonehaugh" for the ultimate verbal landmine.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:21 pm UTC
by chridd
loo-TEN-ənt CALL-ə-nell FETH-er-stone-hah? :P

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:24 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
Monika wrote:„Mrs“ is weird like that, too.

Feminine honorific titles (Mrs., Miss, and Ms.) are an absolute minefield in English, and the more you look into it, the more confusing it gets.

HES wrote:Could be worse, there's also the rank "Lieutenant-Colonel" which, if you're British, has an f in it.

Throw in one of our more obscure family names and you get "Lieutenant-Colonel Featherstonehaugh" for the ultimate verbal landmine.

There's also the fact that a major is superior to a lieutenant, but a lieutenant general is superior to a major general.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:00 pm UTC
by Mega85
The word "colonel" was spelled "coronel" once, which, while not a exactly a phonetic spelling, was better than the present "colonel".

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colonel

English colonel is pronounced the same as kernel. This seems odd, but there is an explanation. In many languages when a word contains two identical or similar sounds, one of these sounds will often change over a period of time. This kind of change is called dissimilation. So when the Italian word colonello was taken into French, it became coronel; and the word was borrowed by the English from the French in this form. Later the spelling colonel came to be used in order to reflect the Italian origin of the word. But by then the pronunciation with r was well established.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:55 pm UTC
by Derek
HES wrote:Could be worse, there's also the rank "Lieutenant-Colonel" which, if you're British, has an f in it.

Where on earth did "leftenant" come from anyways? There's not F in the French word it comes from, and as far as I know there never was.

Monika wrote:„Mrs“ is weird like that, too.

This one comes from "mistress", which was shortened in pronunciation to "misses". So it's basically a case of spelling and pronunciation each shortening to different forms.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:24 pm UTC
by Grop
Eebster the Great wrote:
Monika wrote:
* The (much rarer) adjective ending -tiell is pronounced [-ˈʦi̯ɛl]. The 1996 spelling reform allows the spelling -ziell now if a related word with z exists, because there were anyway words spelled with -ziell already (e.g. potentiell/potenziell, existentiell/existenziell because Potenz and Existenz exists, only partiell, only offiziell).

Do German-speakers really adjust their habits according to law? This is entirely foreign to me. I make many mistakes when I write or speak, but these mistakes are pointed out only in relation to other speakers, not according to some absolute. If a particular style guide changed its mind about the Oxford comma or double-spacing after periods or whatever, I wouldn't suddenly decide I had to edit my latest paper.


If that works in Germany with German as it does with French in France, most probably such reforms are not laws. However they determine how writing is taught to kids, and over time alternate spellings become accepted. I spell my (French) words the way I learned them in the 80s, and nobody* questions that even though there was a big reform in 1990.

* except for these annoying spell checkers

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:50 pm UTC
by Monika
That’s how it works here, too. The rules are only legally binding for schools and other state institutions.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:13 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
By "law," I didn't mean like you were required by law to change how you spoke or wrote, just that the law prescribed new formally correct spellings, which still seems weird.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:27 am UTC
by Monika
Are you saying in your country there is no law or adminstrative order that tells schools and state institutions how to spell? Do different schools teach different stuff? Do different institutions use different spelling on their forms and letters?

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:23 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Monika wrote:Are you saying in your country there is no law or adminstrative order that tells schools and state institutions how to spell? Do different schools teach different stuff? Do different institutions use different spelling on their forms and letters?

There is not. Standard spelling is determined by usage. Schools simply teach the way people actually do spell words, not how words ought to be spelled. The fact is that most words are spelled only one way, which makes this system workable. Some words do have multiple spellings (like "adviser" and "advisor"), and in these cases, either both spellings are taught or perhaps just one (typically the more common one: in this case, "adviser"). Consider that the complexity of spelling in English would make spelling standardization and reform very difficult.

Note that it isn't just America that does this. To my knowledge, there are no English language authorities in any country.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:49 am UTC
by flicky1991
I would have assumed "advisor" was the more common spelling... although Chrome is giving me a red underline, so maybe not.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:50 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
flicky1991 wrote:I would have assumed "advisor" was the more common spelling... although Chrome is giving me a red underline, so maybe not.

I actually use "advisor" too, and while the sources I checked all said that "adviser" was firmly the more common word, somehow "advisor" returns seven times as many results on Google, which is a bit confusing. Some sources go into detail over which spelling is more common in which situations, which publications and manuals of style prefer which, etc., so apparently it's something a few people have put some thought into. I don't know why Google matches more pages to "advisor."

Not that it matters, obviously, but it is a bit strange.


Separately, I should point out that spelling is not a major part of education anyway. Most kids do learn some vocab lists in school, but it's always a very minor part of English classes. Most vocabulary (and therefore spelling) comes from reading. Standardized tests do not test spelling, and assignments are generally done on computers with spell-checkers built in, so there isn't really any reason to focus on it. The only real reason to obsess over spelling is if you intend to enter a spelling bee.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:11 am UTC
by chridd
Eebster the Great wrote:Separately, I should point out that spelling is not a major part of education anyway. Most kids do learn some vocab lists in school, but it's always a very minor part of English classes. Most vocabulary (and therefore spelling) comes from reading. Standardized tests do not test spelling, and assignments are generally done on computers with spell-checkers built in, so there isn't really any reason to focus on it. The only real reason to obsess over spelling is if you intend to enter a spelling bee.
That must depend on the school/teacher/year. I remember spelling being a big part of both my second and fourth grade classes, and it was definitely a part of my third grade class as well (and seventh and/or eighth grade had vocabulary lists). I think there were also assignments where doing them on computer wasn't allowed in elementary school, but I don't remember if that was typical.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:01 am UTC
by Aiwendil
Separately, I should point out that spelling is not a major part of education anyway. Most kids do learn some vocab lists in school, but it's always a very minor part of English classes. Most vocabulary (and therefore spelling) comes from reading. Standardized tests do not test spelling, and assignments are generally done on computers with spell-checkers built in, so there isn't really any reason to focus on it. The only real reason to obsess over spelling is if you intend to enter a spelling bee.


Anecdotal, and from ~25 years ago, but spelling was a major subject for at least 1st through 4th grade in my school.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:47 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
Hmm, maybe I just don't remember my elementary school that well. We did focus on stuff like word forms, parts of speech, punctuation, etc. (as well as cursive writing), so spelling was probably part of it too. None of the assignments were done on computers, cause I'm old and that wasn't really practical for first graders.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:27 pm UTC
by pogrmman
Aiwendil wrote:
Separately, I should point out that spelling is not a major part of education anyway. Most kids do learn some vocab lists in school, but it's always a very minor part of English classes. Most vocabulary (and therefore spelling) comes from reading. Standardized tests do not test spelling, and assignments are generally done on computers with spell-checkers built in, so there isn't really any reason to focus on it. The only real reason to obsess over spelling is if you intend to enter a spelling bee.


Anecdotal, and from ~25 years ago, but spelling was a major subject for at least 1st through 4th grade in my school.


And for me. I had weekly, 20 word spelling tests from first through fourth grade. I usually did very well because I was an avid reader, so I usually ignored the instruction about it. Spelling certainly was a major part of my education.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:38 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
We had spelling tests this side of the pond but I don't remember ever being actively taught the words. We were taught some general rules and, once we could read and write a bit, we were just given lists of words to learn for the test.

So there's definitely a certain amount of top-down control on spelling but seeing as there's no linguistic academy for English it'd be pretty difficult for anyone to even convince people there was a new spelling rule let alone that they should follow it

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:42 pm UTC
by pogrmman
Admittedly, I don’t remember spelling instruction at all. I just tuned it all out and did the tests when I got them. So I don’t know how it was taught.

I’d definitely agree that because of the lack of an academy for English, there isn’t top down control to any significant degree. Yeah, there are ways that words are usually spelled, and I guess that’s what people learn.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:26 am UTC
by Derek
Seconding my preference for "advisor". On the subject of alternate spellings, "gray" and "grey". I'm pretty sure I use both frequently. Some sources say that the first is American and the second is British, but I don't think the usage is nearly that consistent.

We studied spelling in 1st and probably 2nd grade, but after that we studied vocabulary instead. Difference being that vocabulary you're focusing on learning the meaning of words more than the spelling (though you are also expected to spell it correctly of course). Though in my case I already knew the vast majority of vocabulary words.

We continued studying vocabulary all the way through middle school, and then again in 11th and 12 grades (I guess in high school it was up to the teacher? Also it was a private school so they weren't bound by state curriculums). Ironically, my 11th grade vocabulary book was the exact same as my 8th grade vocabulary book.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:42 am UTC
by Angua
We were definitely taught spelling/phonics. There would be list of words each week that followed a certain rule or had a certain combination (like i before e, words with ough, ph) and so you'd see a bunch of words that followed said rule and a bunch that were an exception.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:04 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Angua wrote:words with ough

There is nothing phonetic about ough.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:04 am UTC
by Angua
Hence why we had to be taught them in school?

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:18 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Angua wrote:Hence why we had to be taught them in school?

I'm struggling to understand how they were taught. Did your teacher just provide you with a list of every word that contained an ough to memorize? They share almost nothing in common with one another. (They are each a variant of one of about seven or eight common pronunciations . . . except the ones that aren't. And they do not share etymological roots. And other spellings are enormously more common for each of those pronunciations.)

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:22 am UTC
by Monika
We (German kids) had spelling in grade 1-4 about when to use double or single letters and which words have silent h, about x/ks/cks/chs, about pf and s/ss/ß and tz/z and how to hyphenate words at the end of the line (hey, our words are long). Then in grade 5-8 we had spelling about which words to capitalize (nouns, but what is or isn’t a noun is not as obvious as you think), which words to draw together into one word and which to keep separate, where to put the commas and when to use das or dass (back then das or daß). In this second section are most changes from the reform, and about ß. We never ever had any vocabulary lists (regarding meaning … I think not regarding spelling, either, but not 100% sure) in German class. But I think I read English has double as many words as German so I guess it makes sense kids have to be taught words in school.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:55 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Monika wrote:We (German kids) had spelling in grade 1-4 about when to use double or single letters and which words have silent h, about x/ks/cks/chs, about pf and s/ss/ß and tz/z and how to hyphenate words at the end of the line (hey, our words are long).

Hyphenation is extremely complicated in English as well, but it is never taught. Hyphenation algorithms for word processors tend to involve a lot of spaghetti code and still miss many cases. That said, hyphenation is only usually necessary in justified text, so that's really just publishers' problem, not authors'.

Then in grade 5-8 we had spelling about which words to capitalize (nouns, but what is or isn’t a noun is not as obvious as you think), which words to draw together into one word and which to keep separate, where to put the commas and when to use das or dass (back then das or daß). In this second section are most changes from the reform, and about ß. We never ever had any vocabulary lists (regarding meaning … I think not regarding spelling, either, but not 100% sure) in German class.

That's what seems so weird to me. Was the reform about updating rules to fit modern usage, or did a group of people just decide to change a bunch of spellings because they thought that would be more convenient? Either way, that never happens in English, but the latter is much harder for me to imagine. I don't know how that would go over in other countries, but in the U.S., if a group of organizers tried to change spelling rules, even in a logical way that improved consistency, it would probably spark protests.

But I think I read English has double as many words as German so I guess it makes sense kids have to be taught words in school.

Counting words in a language is notoriously difficult. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as an agglutinative language, doesn't German have a theoretically unbounded number of words? I guess it depends on the meaning of "word." But English certainly has a huge number of words. I don't know if that means a typical English speaker has a larger vocabulary than a typical German speaker.

One feature of English is that many words have synonyms with effectively identical meanings. In some cases, there is a word of Germanic origin (often from Old English) with an identical meaning to a word of Latinate origin (often from Old French). For instance, "anger" and "rage" have basically the same meaning, with the former from Old Norse angr and the latter from Latin rabiēs (of course there are other equivalents to, like "wrath," of Germanic orign, and "ire," of Latin origin). This certainly tends to expand the number of words.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:00 am UTC
by Monika
Eebster the Great wrote:Was the reform about updating rules to fit modern usage, or did a group of people just decide to change a bunch of spellings because they thought that would be more convenient?

The latter, and the bunch of people were the Duden editorial department. Which had been officially tasked with German spelling for the 50 years before this and inofficially the 50 years before that. Well, Mr. Duden did it himself in the beginning. Duden is used synonymously with dictionary in Germany, even though other dictionaries exist and there are other Duden lexica. Since 2005 or so there’s a commission instead.

Either way, that never happens in English, but the latter is much harder for me to imagine. I don't know how that would go over in other countries, but in the U.S., if a group of organizers tried to change spelling rules, even in a logical way that improved consistency, it would probably spark protests.

Alas, English is most in need :D

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:50 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
Derek wrote:
Seconding my preference for "advisor". On the subject of alternate spellings, "gray" and "grey". I'm pretty sure I use both frequently. Some sources say that the first is American and the second is British, but I don't think the usage is nearly that consistent.


I can't speak to usage in AmE, but "gray" is incredibly unusual in BrE.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:33 pm UTC
by Angua
There was a list of the most common words and how you pronounce them. Then you'd use them in a sentence and they'd turn up on spelling tests. It would have only been one lesson + homework. Sometimes you'd do more fun things like making a rhyming poem.

How else are you supposed to learn how to spell cough or dough? At least if you've been taught about a range of them you know that you need to look up newer ones if you come across them.

It baffles me that you weren't taught this sort of thing in school. Do they just rely on people figuring out by osmosis?

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:31 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
Angua wrote:It baffles me that you weren't taught this sort of thing in school. Do they just rely on people figuring out by osmosis?

We did have some vocab tests in elementary school, but we mostly had writing and reading assignments. We would also read as a class or to the class. Our spelling and pronunciation were constantly being corrected. This seems like a far more natural way to learn proper English than spelling lists.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:46 pm UTC
by doogly
But there's nothing natural about spelling these weird guys. If it's just arbitrary lists, being handed a list is the best you can do. We most definitely had them all through grammar school? Maybe not in 7th and 8th grade...

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:51 pm UTC
by Angua
Yeah by grade 4 we didn't do them anymore.


But seriously, it's not like that prevented us from reading out loud and being corrected. It just meant that once or twice a week we focused on weird words.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:08 pm UTC
by Derek
Monika wrote:which words to draw together into one word and which to keep separate,

Is there a rule for this, or is it just all noun adjuncts?

Eebster the Great wrote:Counting words in a language is notoriously difficult. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as an agglutinative language, doesn't German have a theoretically unbounded number of words?

I don't think German is generally considered agglutinative. As I understand it, it aggressively uses compound words, but this is not the same as agglutination.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:38 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
I don't know, German is both commonly listed as agglutinative and commonly excluded. I think its helpful to distinguish between whether it's the derivational morphology or the inflectional morphology which is agglutinative (or both); German's pretty definitely got an agglutinative derivational morphology but its inflection is pretty solidly fusional.

Spanish doesn't really exhibit agglutination in derivation or inflection so's pretty solidly fusional in both aspects of its morphology (French is even more extreme here with practically analytic derivation). Prototypical agglutinative languages like Finnish are agglutinative in both aspects. I'm not sure if there are any languages with agglutinative inflection but fusional derivation and such a system certainly sounds contrived.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:17 am UTC
by Liri
I like that Esperanto is included in a list of constructed languages with Klingon and Quenya.

Does anyone here make a conscious decision to use "blond" for the masculine use and "blonde" for the feminine?

Grey is much better than gray. It's just... greyer. It's certainly a UK/US divide though, despite my fondness for the 'e'.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:45 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Unless a grayfish absorbs a Gray of radiation.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:53 am UTC
by eSOANEM
Liri wrote:
Does anyone here make a conscious decision to use "blond" for the masculine use and "blonde" for the feminine?


I do. I also use fiancé/fiancée based on gender. I don't know what French non-binary people do though (it's obviously a lot more complicated than English usually is) so I have no idea what I'd do if I needed to describe another nb with one of those terms. I'd probably default to blonde (because that's most common) and fiancé unless the person objected.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:40 am UTC
by Monika
Derek wrote:
Monika wrote:which words to draw together into one word and which to keep separate,

Is there a rule for this, or is it just all noun adjuncts?

If the resulting word is a noun they are always written as one word, the difficulty is with verbs, adjectives and adverbs. The old rules were vague: “if it changes the meaning, draw them together into one word” - which didn’t mean you got to choose! You were supposed to come to the same conclusion as the dictionary writers whether the meaning changed. Generally the answer was yes, the meaning is slightly different or figurative, so it’s one word.

The new rules are based on grammar not meaning and tend much more towards keeping words separate: verb + verb: keep separate. Participle + verb: separate. Adverb + verb: one word (I think except for multipart adverbs … there’s a fixed list of 20 or so of these). Noun + verb: separate (except 3 or so cases where the noun is not really perceived as a noun anymore (or maybe that was only about not having to capitalize these nouns) … they made 2 or more mini-reforms to the big 1996 to allow such things where most people complained/disliked the new spelling). Adjective + verb: separate.

An example for the pre-1996 nightmare: Auto fahren - to drive a car. But: radfahren - to ride a bike.

@Liri: which list of languages?

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:56 am UTC
by flicky1991
eSOANEM wrote:I don't know what French non-binary people do
I have heard (but can't remember where) that French non-binary people that would prefer gender-neutral pronouns in English usually prefer to be referred to as the opposite to their birth-assigned gender when using French pronouns.

Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:31 am UTC
by eSOANEM
Yeah, that's probably what I'd do when speaking French. French words in English feel a little different to me though? I was mostly wondering if they'd come up with a third form for adjectives but, well, that'd be frequently misunderstood and probably mocked.

Like, I know the equivalents to the sort of thing I was looking for in Spanish: mostly "take the feminine form, knock the -a off and replace with one of -@, -x, or -e" (although -@ I think is usually used primarily for people of unknown gender but presumed to be binary, -x is a bit more inclusive, and -e being a neo-ending#s pretty much exclusive to nb folks in queer spaces)