Sunday, 9 September 2012

Beloved - not only by Toni Morrison

'Beloved' is the title of a novel by Toni Morrison, the famous American writer and Nobel Prize Laureate.

cover of the 1st ed.

I am interested in the pronunciation of 'beloved' (of course). What do the three top dogs tell us?
LPD3 has this (1st the UK pron, then the US):
video
Although the main entry is transcribed with a third syllable (the KIT vowel being recommended), both speakers pronounce only two. According to the accompanying text the latter pron is restricted to the predicative use of beloved.

EPD18 is  a bit more confusing. We're first given the transcription of the predicative use with 2 sylls, but the speakers of the two model accents present us with different versions (again 1st UK, then US):
video

As regards the attributive usage, the prons match at least one of the transcriptions. Listen:
video

What's our maverick got to say?
credit: ODP, lemma beloved
 As you see, the 3rd syllable is always optional.

Confused by all this? My advice to EFL speakers is this rule of thumb:

If beloved is used attributively, as a noun or in formulaic speech, pronounce it /biˈlʌvɪd/:
  • I was in my beloved London;
  • in memory of our dearly beloved daughter;
  • it was a gift from her beloved;
  • Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today ...
If it is used predicatively, use /biˈlʌvd/:
  • she was beloved by all her readers;
  • Prof X, much beloved by his students, died in an accident.
But don't be surprised or disappointed if NSs don't comply with this recommendation.

One last question and an answer to it: How is the title of T. Morrison's book pronounced?
/biˈlʌvɪd/ (or /biˈlʌvəd/).

4 comments:

  1. I agree with your rule-of-thumb, Petr.

    And thanks too for the illustrative reminder of the difference between the attributive and predicative use of adjectives.

    It's something I DO know about (I like to believe!); all the same, I always have to think very hard each time I want to use those words to make sure I've got the terms for the distinction the right way round...

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  2. I recently watcht on YouTube an encounter between Mz Morrison and an interviewer who mentioned the book to her as /bə`lʌvəd/. I didnt detect from her any shock or pain or even a slight wince so I'm inclined to think of that as the normal American version of the title. Tho, mind you, till that point I'd've called it /bɪ`lʌvɪd/. But, then, I havnt re·d it and hav· little ambition so to do.

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  3. No! Sorry! He sed /bə`lʌvd/!

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  4. In another interview with a female interviewer Toni Morrison herself pronounced the title as /bə`lʌvəd/. So, there we are!

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