Wednesday 19 September 2012

woe a knee

credit: Ric James

John Maidment in his blog of the 18th of September rants about one of Jeremy Paxman's questions in the academic quiz show University Challenge. Paxman asked the two teams:
""Wo ai ni" , "te dua" and "t'estimo" are the respective Mandarin, Albanian, Catalan equivalents of which three word English sentence?" The bone of contention was Paxman's pronunciation of the Mandarin sentence, which should have been /wɔ ai ni/, but was ejaculated by Paxman as /wəʊ  eɪ niː/. If I had to ask this question I would have needed a transcription. Why didn't the team behind the quiz show provide it?

Be it as it may - if you care to hear the question, here it is: 

credit: BBC Two

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):
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):

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

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/).

Thursday 6 September 2012

search keywords

The blogger software enables me to see the keywords readers of my blog use to search my postings (don't worry - it's totally anonymous; I can't relate the search words to the user's URL).
Today one of my readers searched for "Kraut idioms".
Dear Madam or Sir, I feel honoured, flattered and flabbergasted.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

a wicked witch

As you can see in the title to this blog entry, it's another ed-word I've selected for you: wicked.

Firstly, there is the past tense (or present perfect or past perfect) of a verb to wick - wicked. One of its meanings is described by the OED a) in its intransitive use as "to migrate by capillary action" and b) in its transitive use as "to absorb or draw off (liquid) through capillary action". Here's one sample sentence for each usage:
a) the material allows sweat to wick away from the body;
b) the fabric wicks moisture very quickly.

Secondly, there's the adjective wicked in the sense of 'having a wick' (= the piece of thread in a candle) as in
c) he used a double-wicked candle.

Thirdly, wicked can also be an adjective (and an adverb or noun) in the sense of 'behaving badly' as in
d) she's the typical wicked stepmother
or meaning 'very good' as in
e) this is a wicked bike.

The pronunciation of wicked varies with the meaning of the word. Try these:
  1. they sell two-wicked candles;
  2. he wrote a wicked book;
  3. the air wicked away the sweat that trickled down my body;
  4. Emmet had a wicked grin on his face;
  5. he's become one of the most wicked on the globe;
  6. the GoPro Hero HD is a wicked camera;
  7. I just bought a wicked new computer game;
  8. Okay, let's go to the beach now. - Wicked!;
  9. a double-wicked lamp gives more light;

Monday 3 September 2012

There was a crooked man ...

credit: Trisha Fawyer

The next word ending in -ed is crooked. Besides crook as a noun (designating a criminal or a shepherd's stick) there's the verb to crook (meaning to bend) and the adjective crooked characterising an object as bent or twisted or a person as dishonest. The adjective (and the noun derived from it) is pronounced /krʊkɪd/, /krʊkəd/, the verb form crooked follows the usual rule and is pronounced /krʊkt/.

A few sample sentences:
  1. your tie's crooked;
  2. she crooked a finger at him;
  3. these crooked streets are a maze;
  4. all of them are crooked;
  5. he crooked his elbow;
  6. Marcus Duvall is a crooked cop;
  7. braces will correct the crooked smile;
  8. the picture's crooked to one side;
  9. the crooked shall be made straight (Isaiah 40:4);

Saturday 1 September 2012

blessed be the man that spares these stones ...

credit: Jim Fess
After aged and learned I'd like to take a look at blessed. Again there're basically two pronunciations - /blest/ and /blesɪd, blesəd/. Here are some sample sentences/phrases for you to test yourself:
  1. he was blessed with rare talents;
  2. the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  3. there was blessed silence;
  4. blessed are the poor in spirit;
  5. the priest blessed the bread and wine;
  6. I can't see a blessed thing;
  7. Where's John? - I'm blessed if I know;
BTW: D'you happen to know where those four lines are to be found? It's an epitaph.