Saturday, 31 March 2012

'idiomatic' stress marks

credit: ??

The (O)ALD seems to be the only general monolingual English dictionary which shows stress patterns for idioms. This feature was introduced in the 3rd edition of the ALD in 1974.

For this blog entry I've chosen 10 randomly selected idioms to be checked against the various editions of the dictionary.

idiom ALD3 OALD4OALD5 OALD6OALD7OALD8
beat sb at their own 'game 01111
a 'bone to pick with sb 0 1 1111
make one's 'blood run cold 1 00000
eyes in the back of your 'head 11111
a good 'head on one's shoulders 1 11111
'other fish to fry1 1 11, 'fry1, 'fry1, 'fry1, 'fry
a 'pretty kettle of fish 1 1
paddle one's 'own canoe 1 1, ca'noe1, ca'noe
not the only pebble on the 'beach 01
stew in one's own 'juice 0 11111



— = not listed
0 = listed but without stress mark
1 = listed with stress mark
If a word is underlined, I checked its dictionary entry


And, finally, idioms in Downton Abbey, series 2, episode 1:

video

As you can hear, Lady Mary Crawley stresses the word 'other' in the idiom 'other fish to fry', not 'fry'. Michelle Dockery. the actress, seems to have consulted ALD3 or OALD4 while she prepared her role as Lady Mary.
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1In ALD3 and OALD4 the main stress is on other, whereas in OALD5ff. it's on fry

3 comments:

  1. I would also have said "OTHER fish ...". At the same time, the accentuation of these phrases might vary depending on cntext, implied or expressed contrast etc.

    I would also say:
    beat sb at their OWN game
    eyes in the BACK of your head
    PRETTY kettle of fish
    ONLY pebble on the beach
    stew in one's OWN juice

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  2. @Sidney: variatio delectat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wood··Sidney Comments 31 Mar 2012
      Dear Sidney, of course you're absolutely right to say
      I would also have said "OTHER fish ...". At the same time, the accentuation of these phrases might vary depending on context, implied or expressed contrast etc.
      You could even add the speaker's mood.
      In this case we both completely agree that Lady Mary gave this its undou·tedly usual version but I cd imagine myself in a very whimsical mood employing an essentially paralinguistic effect and having a trembly very wide Fall on the last word but it wou·dn've been 'normal', it'dve been stagey.
      So in an EFL dictionary the editors do their best to decide what is normal and give that. The result may be something that offends your sense of logic but these items are grouped under the headinng ID(IO)M(S) and as you know that implies that logic may not feature.
      When you tell us
      "I would also say:

      beat sb at their OWN game
      eyes in the BACK of your head"
      I hope you aren't suggesting that the OALD advice shdve included your very unusual version as well. The same goes for "stew in one's OWN juice" which is also very rarely heard and therefore not to be recommended to users of English as an extra language coz they want to sound normal and not eccentric.
      As to "PRETTY kettle of fish" and "ONLY pebble on the beach"
      I dont understand your "also".
      Regards
      Jack

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