Thursday 1 March 2012

doodle of the 29th of February

2012 is a leap year. Unlike a common year it contains an additional day (the 29th of February). Google's doodle for this day looks like this:

Frogs? Making music? The association between frog and leap year is easy to form: Frogs leap and 2012 is a leap year (funny ha-ha). The chain of associations between music and 2012 as a leap year is a bit longer: 220 years ago, on the 29th of February of 1792, the Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born. He composed operas in the buffo style, but he is historically more important as a composer of opera seria.

But how is the Italian pronunciation /dʒoaˈkiːno rosˈsiːni/ made palpable to the English tongue? Let's see what LPD3 and EPD18 offer.


Gioachino no entry no entry

If there's no Gioachino in the dictionaries, maybe there are other words starting with <Gio(a)->? One gets Gioconda, Giotto, Giovanni in both LPD and EPD. In Italian (and, please, correct me if I'm wrong because I do not speak Italian) we have /dʒo-/ as a pronunciation of <Gio->. With the added <a> we get /dʒoa-/, and this is what Forvo offers for Gioachino. When it comes to English the situation is not so straightforward.

To quote John Wells: "Usually, when English borrows a word from some other modern language, we keep the spelling used in the source language and hesitate about the pronunciation." Sound observation, innit?

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