Thursday 22 May 2014

Robert Burns on mice and men

Could anyone help me with the pronunciation of a line in R. Burns' poem To a Mouse?

This is the stanza:
credit: Stephen M Barnett
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
 I've highlighted the line in question. The rhyme scheme, it seems, is
a a b c a c, so "agley" should rhyme with "joy" or am I wrong here? What then is the pron of "agley"? A transcription of the whole line would be appreciated.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

The wrong hypo + thesis

In last week's seminar one of my young professionals pronounced the word hypothesis as /ˌhaɪpəʊˈθiːsɪs/. Nice try and I'm shore everyone will have understood her, but it's pronounced /haɪˈpɒθəsɪs/.

Here are some words with their main stress on the 1st syllable - /ˈhaɪpə(ʊ)-/:
  • hypocaust
  • hyponym
  • hypostyle
  • hypotaxis
Next, words with the stress pattern /haɪˈpɒ-/:
  • hyponymy
  • hypostasis
  • hypotenuse
  • hypothecate
  • hypothesise
  • hypothesis
  • hypoxia
Some words have a secondary (or no) stress on the 1st syllable -  haɪpə(ʊ)-/:
  • hypochondria(c)
  • hypodermic
  • hypogeal
  • hypotension
  • hypothermal
  • hypothetic(al)
Then, we encounter /ˈhɪpə-/ as in
  • hypocrite
Or  /ˌhɪpə-/ with secondary or no stress in
  • hypocritical
And, last but not least (and with thanks to Alex), {hypo-} in GB and GA is pronounced /hɪˈpɒ-/ and  /hɪˈpɑː-/ respectively in
  • hypocrisy
  • hypobole
The combining form (also called neo-classical prefix) {hypo-} is Greek in origin: ὑπο-. Its senses are according to the OED: "under, beneath, down, from below; underhand, secretly; in a subordinate degree, slightly". The prefix was handed down to the English language via Latin and French. There are about 200 words with this combining form most of which start with /haɪpə-/, sometimes against etymology and historical development.

Update: There's now another blog post on <hypo-> by John Maidment to be found here (the blog post, not John). 

Saturday 17 May 2014

Looks promising!

credit: CUP
"Sounds interesting" is the title of a new book written by John C Wells to appear in October 2014. It will contain selected entries of a blog run by John until the 22nd of April 2013 when it was discontinued. The text is livened up by drawings done by Lhinton Davidson. Here is the
  • Table of Contents

    1. How do you say…?
    2. English phonetics: theory and practice
    3. Teaching and examining
    4. Intonation
    5. Symbol shapes, fonts, and spelling
    6. English accents
    7. Phonetics around the world
    Index of words
    General index.
The book will cost around 16 GB.