Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Aristocratic Eugenie

There's been a minute phonetic uproar about how to pronounce 'Eugenie', one of the daughters of the Duke of York. Not that I really care about how the name of this aristocratic offspring is pronounced, but from a phonetic viewpoint one is compelled, so-to-speak, to deal with the matter. Followers of John Wells's blog found a video clip on the internet featuring an interview with Eugenie's mother, Sarah Ferguson. These followers, including John C Wells himself, seem to hear a word-medial voiced fricative. I beg to differ here. To my ears this is more of a devoiced, if not voiceless fricative, so either [ˈjuːʒ̊əni] or /ˈjuːʃəni/. I favour the latter variant.

But decide for yourselves:

video

10 comments:

  1. I heard her father on tv over the holiday say what sounded like/`juːʒəni/.

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    Replies
    1. In "Frost on the World" David Frost pronounces her name with a yogh.

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  2. "These followers (...) seem to hear a word-medial voiced fricative" - as the one who found the clip, I already mentioned the voicelessness. This doesn't mean, of course, that the underlying form doesn't have ʒ, which I would expect in careful speech. @JWL: [] for pronunciation please!

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  3. @Kilian Hekhuis: Sorry for not giving you proper credit for detecting the video clip! You are, of course, right in pointing to the fact that the underlying/intended/careful pronunciation is with a medial yogh.

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  4. →Kilian Hekhuis
    I make no apology for representing what I heard as a particular apparent sequence of phonemes on the part of the speaker.

    → Kraut
    I wonder if anyone else uses "yogh" in this sense. I shdve thaut that 'ezh' wdve been less ambiguous for [ʒ].

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    Replies
    1. My using the term 'yogh' has to do with the fact that I taught some classes in Old English decades ago and can't get that term out of my head.

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    2. ON Old English - not IN it

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  5. JWL, do you think it makes sense that the weak or absent voice is facilitated by a syllable-final position after the schwa was dropped - ˈjuːʒ̊.niː?

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  6. → Lipman

    One may presume that [ juːˈʒeɪ.niː > ˈjuːʒeɪ.niː > ˈjuːʒə.niː > ˈjuːʒniː > ˈjuːʒ̊.niː ] were simply stages of articulatory weakening

    noting that both the final stages are /ˈjuːʒniː/ because in the last transcription the [ ʒ̊ ] is to be taken to be simply literally voiceless but not additionally fortis — which wd be the case if the articulation were strengthened to *[ ˈjuːʃ.niː]

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