Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Aged Aged Man - by Lewis Carroll

The first stanza of a poem by Lewis Carroll runs like this:

I'll tell thee everything I can;
There's little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
"Who are you, aged man?" I said,
"And how is it you live?"
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.

 How would you pronounce 'aged' in the noun phrase marked red? (It re-occurs two lines further down.) If you are a NNS of English, doubts may creep in: "Is it /eɪʤd/ or /eɪʤɪ|əd/?" Listen to the stanza spoken by Richard Worland: 

credit: vimeo - Richard Worland
So it's /eɪʤɪ|əd/. There're two forms then (though not in this stanza) - one with and one without a schwa. Test yourself if you get these expressions right:
  1. too small for aged eyes; - /eɪʤɪd/
  2. she’s aged 24; - /eɪʤd/
  3. the aged father; - /eɪʤɪd/
  4. a man aged between 30 and 35; - /eɪʤd/
  5. open to children aged 12 and over; - /eɪʤd/
  6. the care of children and the aged; - /eɪʤɪd/
  7. half blind and so rapidly aged; - /eɪʤd/
  8. my aged car can’t make it up that hill; - /eɪʤɪd/
  9. he aged 10 years in that night; - /eɪʤd/
  10. this wine has aged for many years; - /eɪʤd/


  1. Would you recommend /eɪʤəd/ rather than /eɪdʒɪd/? Does the example with schwa sound more "spontaneous"?

    1. @BP: If you feel young at heart, use the KIT vowel. BTW: /eɪdʒɪd/ is the version recommended by LPD (aka Wells's pron dict) :-)

  2. The word "beloved" can vary too, sometimes 2 syllables, sometimes 3. One version of the C of E marriage service begins: "Dearly Beloved" and, as far as I know, this is always pron. with 3 sylls. Some other -ed adjectives, such as "long-legged" can have a ə/ɪd ending. Here is a little prayer:

    From ghoulies and ghosties
    And long-leggedy beasties (/lɒŋleɡɪdi/)
    And things that go bump in the night
    Good Lord deliver us!

    Finally, "wicked" is NEVER pron. /wɪkt/!

    1. There are actually four Google results for "well-wicked candle".

      (EDIT: captcha is "moonced".)

    2. I have more wicked 'ed'-words up me sleeve!

    3. 'elbowèd' must have been parturiated by a /krʊkt/ mind ;-)

  3. It HAS to be a two-syllable "aged" in the context of this verse -- simply because the scansion demands it.

    As to /eɪdʒɪd/ v. /eɪdʒəd/: the first is what I (in England and Wales) would say and generally expect to hear; the second is the sound of Tony Blair!

  4. @Kevin: There's no 'has to be' under poetic licence. But still - your argument makes sense if you stick to the chosen metre/meter/scansion.