Monday 5 December 2011

innovative Molly

Jack Windsor Lewis's blog is always a treasure trove of information; one should not miss the chance to 'forage' around in it. In his blog no. 374 he points to a fairly unique pronunciation of the word innovative by Molly Stevens, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London.
credit: BBC
It occurred in an interview she gave on the 15th of November to Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics, who frequently hosts BBC productions about science such as the series "The Life Scientific".

The whole interview is 29 mins long. At about 13:15 Prof. Stevens says: "You know, you can really be incredibly innovative, I think, and bounce a lot of ideas [...]". The languages of biology and medicine are full of polysyllabic terms of Latin and Greek origin with stress patterns which seem to defy logic. No wonder, one muddles them up at times so that innovative and Altzheimer's are stressed where they are normally not stressed. Moreover, we have alternative, conservative, definitive, derivative, discriminative, imaginative, infinitive with stress on the 2nd syllable and emanative, nominative or privative with stress on the 1st syllable (but also /praɪˈveɪtɪv/).

Here's the short extract from the interview:

Of course, this lapsus linguae of hers does not depreciate the importance of her research.


  1. Little things like that make her even more charming, don't you think?

  2. My previous comment wasn't ironic. I really think she is charming.

  3. No, I'm not trying to discriminate against women. Is it my fault if I'm aware of beauty whenever I see it? Should I remain (unfairly) silent?

  4. And what do you mean by "lapsus linguae"?
    I thought JWL made it clear that hers was just an unfamiliar pronunciation of the word -though not so unfamiliar, if I may say so, because I have always pronounced it the way she does.
    Good things are not common.

  5. I hope you won't get the impression that I'm being biased in her favour just because she is beautiful.

  6. @Beatrice Portinari: My basic idea behind this blog entry was to give those readers a chance to listen to this in'novative pronunciation who have no access to the original interview and to hint at possible causes for this unfamiliar stress pattern.
    Should there be any reason or motive to calm you down, let me say this: I find this lady very charming. :)

  7. Thanks my dear fellow. You are a charming person too.