diction

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:42 am

Oh! Linda, then I am very sorry. :( I just broke my neck on prejudice that can not be broken because they are not existing. This is all about justice. 8)

I have to deal daily with immigration, people who can hardly speak English or French correctly even after many years in Québec, Canada - they would like to, but they are not very good with languages, like other people are not good in sports, drawings, etc. Some don't even know that they have to speak French in Québec before coming here, and poor them, I'm not sure of their level of hability in their own language, so two new languages to learn, well, they don't really learn, they use translators instead (official or not).

I deal also with people who are fully bilingual, French-English AND they can use their maternal tongue as a third language. I am envious too, so I understand very well the feeling. Some people speaks 4 or 5 languages even if they are not as fluent in the 4th and 5th (Let say, somebody is speaking F, A. and Spanish very well, and Italian and Portuguese a little). I think that the thing is : you have to be exposed to a language AND practice it.

Languages, they are alive. Some people are words fetichists, but to worship words instead of communication, it seems strange to me as somebody who just sits in a car and thinks that he is going somewhere.

I prefer "z" to "s" it is more esthetics for the eyes. It has more style. Yes.

This said, I repeat, languages they are alive and they are constantly influenced by (and they influence) other languages and they evolve and change from their very own roots also. We do not learn the "King's (or Queen's - whatever) English, but we do not learn Shakespeare's English either. It is passed. It is true for French either, ancient French has little to do with modern French.

Vast subject, dear.
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linda_lakeside
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Postby linda_lakeside » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:14 am

It is very true that 'language', or 'languages' are evolving because the world is becoming smaller. We have an influx of immigrants who bring with them, words, phrases, that make their way into our language (whichever it may be). That is how language evolves.

We all deal with people, who speak, like you say, their mother tongue, another language, and maybe 2 or 3 others, but not so well. I wish I were so adept.

As for the 'word fetishists' well, that's life. We can pick over the dictionary and find words which have roots in ancient Mesopotamian :roll: - but they're still found and used in our everyday language.

Canada is so vast, I don't think very many people outside of Canada realize just how many 'smaller countries' exist within Canada. I, being from the West Coast, haven't had much contact with the French Canadians, except those that come to say, Vancouver, and in their broken English, try to communicate with us in English. And that's really the bottom line. Communication. However, imperfect the language itself may be, people want to communicate. And in doing so, they leave a small bit of their own culture behind, while taking some of ours back with them. Evolution.

And for those of us who are concerned with improper 'English'. Well, it's still communication, and that's what language is for. From the grunts of the early cavemen to the English or French we try to unravel each day.

I think the 'perplexing' questions regarding the highly educated LC, is simply that. Communication, again. Reaching out to those who didn't go to Columbia or graduate from McGill. We don't want to hear him recite Shakespeare. He speaks to us in 'everyday' language. That's one of the reasons we love him. Or at least that's one of the reason's "I" love him.

Like John Prine said: "you are what you are, and you ain't what you ain't". I'm pretty certain Prine knew that was 'incorrect' English. Yet, it speaks to us, in a very literate way.

I'm getting used the the 'z' also. I don't know when the transition happened, but like all change, it happened over time.

Linda.
Tchocolatl
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Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:43 am

It is a vast subject, dear a vast subject.

I was wondering if you had ever see a FC in the flesh. It seems that you did. I hope the ones you are talking about did not brake too much of Vancouver's English. It is always people who don't break anything that go unnoticed, though. 8)

Translators are existing to facilitate our stay in this Tower of Babel that is the World. No problem.

Yes, fetishism. It happens all the time. With words, with religion, with etc. And Cars. There is car and car. Some people have Rolls Royce and other old Volkswagen - I know nothing about cars, but you see what I mean. Usually good cars are more usefull. Usually. Do you understand where I am going with this?

For the wold getting smaller. Well. Yes. It is in fact. The Global Village you may mean. But Latin language was fragmented after the fall of the (huge) Roman Empire into those many vernacular tongues, so. After (well after) when countries were formed with national languages in Europe, the language of the more powerful country was known by all the other countries. As it is now, US are sitting at this place, so. And US is a melting pot. So-so.

Well enough with this serious matter. I'll tell you a French (from France) Belgian joke (by the way, my newfie jokes, they were in answer to Jurica low comments against a fellow Canadian from the place - I tried to show him how they can have the sense of humour. The problem was that Jurica seemed to have less then zero potential in regard of humour. C'est la vie)

OK. Two Belgians were on the corner waiting for the bus. A stranger came and ask them in German if they can help him find his way in the town.

- Sorry Sir said the Belgian (in French, of course) we don't understand German.

So the guy tried in Dutch. Same, thing. He tried in Spanish : "Sorry sir"
Then he tried in English. Same thing. Then, the tourist shook his head and went away.

One Belgian told the other : "Well, we really should learn to speak other languages, you know" The other one answered : "Why, that did not do him any good, you know".

He, he.
Kevin W.M.LastYearsMan
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Postby Kevin W.M.LastYearsMan » Mon Jul 03, 2006 7:14 am

Geoffrey,
You need to get out of the house more often. Despite positioning yourself as being superior in that last post you have also proved that you are no musicologist.

I'm of the opinion that someone who makes sterotypical statements about an entire genre of American music is far more ignorant than a person who mis-pronounces prescription or any other word.

I'll bet an album of William F. Buckley singing torch songs would be your wet dream. At least they would be pronounced correctly and arrogantly-- syllable after excruciating and nausiating syllable. I'll stick with my BLUES (don't forget I mentioned that. You probably didn't want to attack that because you'd be considered a racist, huh?), bluegrass (which is derivative of folk) and FOLK. You know, that ignorant catagory of peasant songs which happened to be the form Leonard chose to begin with.

And by the way, I said Leonard might have had a dyslexic moment. I wasn't comparing him to bluegrass players. I simply said that if you don't like incorrect grammer that you should leave the "roots music" alone to prevent a grammatical nervous breakdown. It appears, however, that my post didn't reach your eyes in time.
Good luck. Stay sharp, buddy.
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Geoffrey
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Postby Geoffrey » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:51 am

Kevin W.M.LastYearsMan wrote:

>I'm of the opinion that someone who makes sterotypical statements about an entire genre of American music is . . . ignorant

A genre is, by definition, a particular style. In other words while it might be folly to make a sweeping statement about American music as a whole, individual assessment of each genre would be totally acceptable - stereotypical or otherwise. George Harrison said that rap music was so obnoxious that it made him want to murder.

>You probably didn't want to attack that because you'd be considered a racist, huh

If you enjoy going into the 'roots' of things you will know that before the word 'racist' was corrupted it referred to a person so appreciative of the various races and cultures that he wanted to prevent them from disappearing.

>I said Leonard might have had a dyslexic moment.

I do not recall the words 'might have'. As I remember it you specifically wrote that he had 'a dyslexic moment'.

>I simply said that if you don't like incorrect grammer that you should leave the "roots music" alone to prevent a grammatical nervous breakdown.

And I am simply saying that Leonard is known to be so occupied with perfection (as are most Virgos) that he can spend up to five years writing and polishing a song before it is considered faultless enough to be released. This is why it must have been extremely painful for him to realise that his glaring mispronunciation had gone out into the world. Thirty-five years have passed and it is still being talked about.
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Fljotsdale
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Postby Fljotsdale » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:13 pm

Geoffrey wrote: And I am simply saying that Leonard is known to be so occupied with perfection (as are most Virgos) that he can spend up to five years writing and polishing a song before it is considered faultless enough to be released. This is why it must have been extremely painful for him to realise that his glaring mispronunciation had gone out into the world. Thirty-five years have passed and it is still being talked about.
If that is the case, may it not have been quite DELIBERATE on his part to have sung 'perscription' and 'ornjs' and the various other 'errors' of pronunciation he has produced?

Thirty-five years of criticism do not alter the fact that his diction is clear and we know exactly what each word means.

Tell the buggers in the chat room that they are nit-picking at genius, and that when they have Cohen's musical stature, but without any fault at all, THEN they MAY have a right to criticise.
But critics are never artists. They are critics because they are not talented, and cannot bear to acknowledge the talent of others without attacking it with disparaging comments.
Only just found this video of LC:
http://ca.youtube.com/user/leonardcohen?ob=4" target="_blank

This one does make me cry.
Tim
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Postby Tim » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:23 pm

<post deleted>
Last edited by Tim on Tue May 01, 2007 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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linda_lakeside
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Postby linda_lakeside » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:47 pm

As a Canadian, I can say, with some authority, that when people order 'prescriptions', it very much sounds like 'perscriptions'. Like I said earlier, it's just one of those words that is easily mispronounced, and plain easier to say in the 'incorrect' way. I rather doubt that Leonard is losing sleep over this though.

And as it's 5:30 AM on a Holiday Morning here in Canada, I'd say, I could use a nap. Everyone else is doing the very same.

Good morning, all,
Linda.

PS: Fljots, you are absolutely correct in what you said. Has Leonard not been bird-dogged for so long by critics, that now his 'fans' have to pick apart his every word??? The man is genius. That's why we're here. We, and some other shit disturbers that have not much else to do 'apparently', than try to cause 'fire' where there is no 'smoke'. I think Leonard knows how to write and speak. I just listened/watched an entire evening of him doing just that. He's no fool. Geez. I fell for it. I'm losing sleep over this, not Leonard, and certainly not Geoffrey.
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Fljotsdale
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Postby Fljotsdale » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:56 pm

Tim wrote:
Tell the buggers in the chat room that they are nit-picking at genius, and that when they have Cohen's musical stature, but without any fault at all, THEN they MAY have a right to criticise.
But critics are never artists. They are critics because they are not talented, and cannot bear to acknowledge the talent of others without attacking it with disparaging comments.
As the only 'bugger' in the chatroom named in this thread, I hope I'm permitted to take offence at this.
Yes, of course you can! Bugger is my favourite cuss-word, and I sometimes use it inappropriately. My apologies.

I didn't know you were the only one; I got the impression there were a LOT of people in the chat-room criticising Cohen's pronunciation, and I felt it was more than a bit petty. I still do. Your explanation clears up how you came to make the comment.

Tim wrote:I was trying to stay out of it. It's blown up out of nothing anyway, my only comment was to say 'perscription?' in response to a comment by G. And it was a comment, not a criticism. I didn't know at the time that it's a not-uncommon pronounciation of it in Canada (I do now, thanks to a friend) but that doesn't matter as I didn't criticise it.
Well... it's given us something to talk about, anyway, so don't worry about it getting blown out of proportion. Language, pronunciation, and diction are very interesting topics. :)
Tim wrote:And is it really the case that only a musician/singer/songwriter of Cohen's stature should be allowed to criticise his work? It would make whole sections of this and other fora redundant, if so. Unless we're only supposed to offer unconditional praise on everything he does, which would become boring after I while, I feel.
You have a point! :lol:
But I get really teed off with professional critics who have no talent tearing real artists to shreds and GETTING PAID for it. It annoys me so much that the annoyance spills over to ordinary guys sometimes. It wasn't a personal criticism of YOU!
Tim wrote:If it helps, I mispronounce, misspeak or mumble far more words than Cohen ever has, and would consider myself lucky to speak as clearly as he does. Fortunately that's not an issue here and most of you only have to put up with my typing.
Me too. :)
Tim wrote:the bugger, Tim
You really DID take offense, didn't you? :oops: Sorry. :cry:
Only just found this video of LC:
http://ca.youtube.com/user/leonardcohen?ob=4" target="_blank

This one does make me cry.
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linda_lakeside
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Postby linda_lakeside » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:59 pm

While I'm still up, yes Thoc, it is a vast, vast subject. As a matter of fact, the A&W out here even sells poutine.

For some reason, I don't know why, there are a lot of French Canadians in Vancouver. Maybe the travelling kind, I don't know.

As far as your Belgian joke goes, I bet that last Belgian was named Hercule Poirot. Dandified pedant that he was.

Interestingly enough, there are also a lot of Germans where I live now. Don't ask my why. It has something to do with the vast lot of Mother Nature, I think. All the trees.

In closing, yes, the 'conquering or dominate' nation usually holds power over the languages we, as people speak, and the way things are beginning to look, we should all get a phrase book in ... another language.

Linda.
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Fljotsdale
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Postby Fljotsdale » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:00 pm

linda_lakeside wrote:
PS: Fljots, you are absolutely correct in what you said. Has Leonard not been bird-dogged for so long by critics, that now his 'fans' have to pick apart his every word??? The man is genius. That's why we're here...
I think Leonard knows how to write and speak. I just listened/watched an entire evening of him doing just that. He's no fool...
Thanks, Linda. :)

Have a nice nap!
Only just found this video of LC:
http://ca.youtube.com/user/leonardcohen?ob=4" target="_blank

This one does make me cry.
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linda_lakeside
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Postby linda_lakeside » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:01 pm

Damn. Fljots was typing faster than I was. :lol:

See you,
Linda.
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~greg
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Postby ~greg » Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:30 pm

Image




Cohen's pronunciation of "prescription" while singing "One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong"
on the album "Songs of Leonard Cohen", is the 2nd one there,
namely: -

Image



It is a standard American English variant.

-------------------------------------------------


The IPA symbol:
Image



is called "schwer" (or "r-colored schwa").

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-colored_vowel
(and note the note at the end about Celine Dion and hypercorrection!)

-----------------------------------------------------


I took those text-images from
"A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English" - Kenyon & Knott,
where they say this about the "schwer":
§15. 3-. The symbol {schwer-symbol} represents the accented form of the so-called
"r-colored" vowel used in the first syllable of further {ipa-symbols} by those who
do not "drop their r's." In current spelling it is spelt with a vowel letter
followed by the letter r (word, fur, term, firm, earn). But in sound this
vowel {schwer-symbol} is not followed by r; it is a vowel made while the tongue
is at the same time holding the position for r. Such vowels are common
in many types of English. The consonantal r sound that formerly followed
the vowel (hence the present spelling) long ago merged with the preceding
vowel and disappeared as a separate sound, though its effect is still heard
in the r-coloring of the vowel. The simple proof of the nature of the present
sound is that the vowel cannot be pronounced separately from the r without
producing a quite different sound, whereas this can easily be done with, say,
the a and r of farm



Criticism of "A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English" was inevitable.
But I suspect it's mostly idiotic, like some of the Amazon reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/087779 ... 54?ie=UTF8

Eg- the book was last published in 1953, and yet someone criticizes it because:
"This dictionary is one of the few that doesn't have a CD-Rom." !

And the other critics there most probably didn't read the prefix and introduction.


I quote the parts of the prefix and introduction that I think should be of interest in this thread.

(or not; - I've only skimmed the thread)


A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English
by John Samuel Kenyon and Thomas Albert Knott.
Copyright 1953 by G. & C. Merriam Company.


PREFACE

More than ten years ago several scholars especially interested in American
English suggested to one of the present editors the making of a phonetic
pronouncing dictionary of the speech of the United States that might serve,
both in the United States and elsewhere, the purposes served for Southern
British English by Professor Daniel Jones's English Pronouncing Dictionary.
About six years ago the editors became associated in this work.

Although as a pioneer in the field great credit must go to Professor Jones,
who has placed all later lexicographers under inescapable obligation to him,
our task is much different from his. He records the pronunciation of a
limited and nearly homogeneous class of people in England in a type of
speech identical with that of the editor himself. Our problem has been to
record without prejudice or preference several different types of speech used
by large bodies of educated and cultivated Americans in widely separated
areas and with markedly different backgrounds of tradition and culture.
Here let it be emphasized once for all that we have no prejudice whatever
either for or against any of these varieties of American speech.
...
It was originally intended to include Canadian speech as one of the main
regional divisions. A number of questionnaires were sent to Canada, and
some correspondents took pains to send us excellent material (see acknowl-
edgments below). The material was not, however, extensive enough to
warrant full record of Canadian pronunciation, so that we have had to
content ourselves with occasional references thereto.
...

As in all trustworthy dictionaries, the editors have endeavored to base
the pronunciations on actual cultivated usage. No other standard has, in
point of fact, ever finally settled pronunciation. This book can be taken
as a safe guide to pronunciation only insofar as we have succeeded in doing
this. According to this standard, no words are, as often said, "almost
universally mispronounced," for that is self-contradictory. For an editor
the temptation is often strong to prefer what he thinks "ought to be"
the right pronunciation; but it has to be resisted. ... in many cases
the theoretically "right" pronunciation of a word is not even current.
...


But the chief difference between this and the other Merriam dictionaries
is that this is a dictionary of colloquial English, of the everyday
unconscious speech of cultivated people—of those in every community who
carry on the affairs and set the social and educational standards of
those communities. Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition
(Introduction, p. xii) thus defines its purpose in regard to pronunciation:

-- In this edition, the style adopted for representation is that of
-- formal platform speech — and this must be clearly remembered by
-- consultants of the pronunciations here given. The omission of
-- less precise pronunciations of familiar words does not, of course,
-- indicate either that those pronunciations do not exist or that
-- the editors of the dictionary refuse to recognize them.
-- They do exist, and very naturally so when the occasion suits. ...


On the other hand, the pronunciation which the present editors intend
to represent in this book is what has been called "easy English,"
"the speech of well-bred ease"—not slovenly or careless speech, nor,
on the other hand, formal platform speech. Of course the great majority
of English words are pronounced alike in colloquial and in formal speech,
and much the largest part of the vocabulary will be found to have
the same pronunciations in both books, and a large part of the differences
will be the differences between colloquial and formal pronunciation.

The New International does not attempt to represent the pronunciation
of words as they occur in connected speech. The editors state,
"It would be impossible, even were it desirable, to attempt to record
the pronunciation of 'running speech,' that is, of words as elements
in connected spoken discourse. ..."

The present book does not attempt to do this completely, could not,
in fact, but in many instances does show modified pronunciations
brought about by the phonetic effect of words on one another.
Still more often the pronunciation of words as here indicated
has been influenced, not so much by preceding or following sounds,
as by rhythm, tempo, intonation, sense stress, etc.
This will account for a goodly number of differences between
the two books.
...



INTRODUCTION
THE STYLE OF SPEECH REPRESENTED

§1. It is the purpose of this dictionary to show the pronunciation of cultivated colloquial
English in the United States. The meaning of the word colloquial is sometimes misunderstood.
A common misunderstanding is that in dictionaries the label Colloq. attached to a word or
pronunciation brands it as inferior, and therefore to be avoided.

Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, thus defines colloquial: "Pertaining
to, or used in, conversation, esp. common and familiar conversation; conversational; hence,
unstudied; informal; as, colloquial phrases or pronunciations; specif., of a word or a sense
or use of a word or expression, acceptable and appropriate in ordinary conversational context,
as in intimate speech among cultivated people, in familiar letters, in informal speeches or
writings, but not in formal written discourse (flabbergast; go slow; harum-scarum).
Colloquial speech may be as correct as formal speech. 'Every educated person speaks
his mother tongue in at least two ways, and the difference between the dignified
and the colloquial style is considerable.'
—G. L. Kiltredge." It should be noted that the illustrative words do not refer
to pronunciation but to diction, though the definition includes pronunciation.

The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is concise and also adequate. Though it does not
mention pronunciation, "etc." may safely be taken to include it: "Of words, phrases, etc.:
Belonging to common speech; characteristic of or proper to ordinary conversation, as
distinguished from formal or elevated language. (The usual sense.)"

Definitions of colloquial that only concern choice of words and give as examples only oaths
or slang are perhaps in part responsible for some of the popular misunderstanding of the term.

A less frequent, but still not uncommon error is the confusion of colloquial with local,
the assumption that a colloquialism is a localism, and so to be avoided.

Another not uncommon confusion is to regard colloquial English as the opposite of standard
English (standard being confused with formal or literary). There is standard colloquial English
and standard formal or literary English, as there is nonstandard colloquial and nonstandard
formal English. As regards pronunciation, one kind of nonstandard formal English is the
artificial type in which vowels that are normally unaccented are pronounced with their accented
sounds, in which articles (a, an, the), prepositions (to, from, of), and other normally unstressed
particles are pronounced with their emphatic forms instead, in which the tempo and intonation
are not those of traditional living speech, in which abnormal accentuation and loudness
are practiced, together with similar distortions that detract from unostentatious sincerity.

The accepted meaning of colloquial is to be found in the work of such linguistic scholars
as Professor Henry Cecil Wyld, of Oxford, whose History of Modern Colloquial English deals
with the unstudied speech and familiar correspondence of the cultivated classes, and reminds
us of the importance both to literature and to general culture of this central core of the English
language. Says Professor Wyld, "The style of literary prose is alive and expressive, chiefly
insofar as it is rooted in that of colloquial utterance___ The style of Literature is rooted in
the life and conversation of the age."1 Similarly, the American scholar and poet William Ellery
Leonard: "In general every good colloquialism is possible in good prose (or verse), for quite
rightly good prose (or verse) is becoming more and more a skillful adaptation of the vigorous,
compact, racy idiom of the best spoken speech."

§2. Colloquial pronunciation is here treated as the conversational and familiar utterance
of cultivated speakers when speaking in the normal contacts of life and concerned with what
they are saying, not how they are saying it. There are, of course, different styles of colloquial,
from that of the everyday contacts of family life to the somewhat less familiar contacts of
social and business,or professional life. The variant pronunciations of the same word
frequently shown will often reflect the different styles of the colloquial. In all cases of words
that are not formal per se, unstudied everyday speech is the basis. It is of course true that the
majority of words in general use are the same for colloquial as for formal language, and are
pronounced alike in both styles.


The editors are aware that the attempt to represent in fairly accurate symbols the every-
day speech of the cultivated is likely now and then to cause surprise and to tempt criticism.
The average observer has not been trained to observe speech on the wing, and is too apt to
be influenced by unconscious habitual association with spelling forms. No experience is com-
moner with trained observers than to hear certain pronunciations in the very statements in
which the critic is denying them.

It must also be remembered that not all words are of a colloquial nature. Words not in
colloquial use have, properly speaking, no colloquial pronunciation. Thus the word exorcise
does not often occur in conversation. Its pronunciation is therefore what it would be in formal
context, with the -or- fully sounded. If it should become a popular word, it would sound just
like exercise. So the word adhibit, not being colloquial, receives the full sound of the first vowel
as in add, while in the more popular word advise the first vowel is normally obscured.

THE PHONETIC ALPHABET

§3. Pronunciation in this dictionary is indicated by the alphabet of the International
Phonetic Association (IPA). ...
Each symbol stands for only one speech sound, and each speech sound has only one symbol
to represent it.
...
Daniel Jones ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Jon ... etician%29 )
was the model for Shaw's Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion" (& "My Fair Lady").
Anne
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Postby Anne » Mon Jul 03, 2006 5:41 pm

What an idiotic discussion. He sounds like I do when I say the word. Call me an inarticulate idiot if you want to. I think I just sound like someone born in Toronto. I know how to spell the word, but I chose not to pronounce every letter exactly. So shoot me.
Tim
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Postby Tim » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:41 pm

I hope there's no shooting, or accusations of inarticulacy or idiocy going on anywhere. I'm sure you sound like someone born in Toronto, and Leonard sounds like someone born in Montreal. I love the Canadian accent, I just don't get to hear it enough.

Tim

PS late happy Canada day to you all!

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