Monday, 12 November 2012

double idioms (5) or: she brightened my day

During the first weeks of a new semester I ask my phonetics students (aka young professionals) to come and see me for a diagnostic pron test. This morning a young lady came to see me and I had her read my list of words, phrases and sentences. One of the latter is a double idiom:

He has a finger in every pie.

1. Where would you normally place the main stress  - on finger, every or pie?
2. In case you don't know or are insecure - which general purpose, monolingual English dictionary would you consult?
3. How did my guinea pig pronounce the sentence?

The answers will be put online in a jiffy.

PS: Sorry for my extended silence, but I had (and still have) a lot of things to do which were/are of first priority.

Here are the answers:

credit: OUP
1.He has a finger in every 'pie. The main stress is on pie unless you explicitly want to put the focus on a different word.
2. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
3. /hi hæz ə fɪŋə ʔɪn evərɪ piː/

You probably understand why she brightened my day, don't you?


  1. On "every", perhaps?

    (I'm glad you're alive!)

  2. A suggested further praps day-brightening exercise wd be to produce an appropriate cue for Emilio's suggested stressing of a response
    She has a finger in `every pie
    What about
    'I don't like the way she keeps prodding my pies'

    1. Thank you (Jack?) -Of course, that was the kind of context I had in mind!

    2. I tried to make clear - though obviously not very successfully - that I was thinking of the most neutral co- and context in which the double idiom may be uttered, e.g. when I talk about China's ruling class and say: "China's elite has a finger in every pie."
      I obviously also failed in pointing out that Emilio's stress assignment is totally correct if and when one makes up a cotext like the one suggested by Limey.

    3. Thank you too, my dear fellow (Needless to say, you made it all perfectly clear.)

  3. "A FINGer in every pie" or "A FINGer | in every PIE" would be quite macabre -- an advertising slogan for Sweeney Todd maybe.

    1. John, innat case I'd have to look fr a tot'ly diff'r'nt cartoon

  4. Offering our commiserations to Kraut at having a current pressure of priorities such that he cd barely find the time to entertain us with the present titbit (you may notice that I dont share the apparent transatlantic feeling of indelicacy in regard to this form of the word), I feel inclined to step in with a comment or two which he wd cert·nly've made had he but been able to find the time.
    He'd presumably've underlined for his readers the fact that his student committed the typic·ly German element·ry mistake of omitting the /g/ of 'finger'. Less obvi·sly undesirable was her use of the archaic trisyallabic form of the word 'ev·ry'. Lastly, he didnt make it quite clear to us where she placed the accent. One presumes that he considered that information adequately conveyed by his indication that she began the word 'in' with a glottal plosive but I'm sure that, on reflection at least, he'd agree that it wou·d've been perfec·ly possible to·ve had such a plosive without the 'in' necessarily bearing the tonic accent of the sentence.
    Congratulations to Emilio for penetrating my cover.

  5. My heart-felt thanks to Jack for writing a short 'story on my teeny weeny titbit (or tidbit). His comments aptly summarise the tummy cramps I have due to this pronunciation of the sentence by the young lady.
    I do not mind the odd glottal stop but I have to comply with the maxim principiis obsta because otherwise this stop becomes rampant and inflationary in my students' pronunciations.
    BTW: The phrase short story is well worth a comment to be put online in the near future.