Friday, 4 May 2012

Freudian monophthongisation

Strange blog post title, isn't it?

credit :BBC
The story behind it is this: I watched a TV series on BBC 4 called BBC Young Musician 2012. The presenter was/is Clemency Burton-Hill. The particular coverage I was watching is the keyboard category final competition taking place in Cardiff. The presenter said what I, only half listening, heard as "[...] starting with tonight's /piːnɪsts/

Clemency Burton-Hill
credit: BBC

What was that? Had she really said /piːnɪsts/? Of course not! I listened to it again and there it was - a very short and weak schwa which made the big difference in meaning. Here's the section for you to enjoy!

Ms Burton-Hill was born on the 1st of July, 1980. According to Wikipedia she attended St Paul's Girls' School, which is an independent school, as this type is nowadays called (aka public school), and then The Royal College of St. Peter in Westminster. Next she read English at Magdalene (/ˈmɔːdlɪn/) College, Cambridge. Whether she holds a degree, I don't know. She is an actor, writer, journalist and violinist.


  1. Even without the weak off-glide I wouldn't have taken it for the virile member, it would've been the common-or-garden [ɪː] which is all the rage in London town these days, not [iː].

    1. The final t is very obvious, and the plural form -s rather than -iz. A Freudian misperception perhaps?

    2. @Sidney Wood: A Freudian misperception by my applying the rule of monophthongisation and /t/-deletion and ...
      In fact, I was only half listening, detracted by other things, whatever.