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Re: More wierd phonemes

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, February 24, 2000, 6:57
At 3:24 pm -0500 23/2/00, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond Brown wrote: > >> I've only ever heard /'kejnajn/ in the UK - that's certainly the way it was >> pronounced when I was at school in Suusex in the 1950s. I've never heard >> it said any other way in the last half century. > >Hmmm. Maybe I misinterpreted what I read. Supposedly, back when the BBC >was defining how its announcers should speak, Shaw argued for /kejnajn/ as >a minority of one, and was told that he must have an American dentist. >"Of course", said he. (He was big on American spellings, too.)
Our dictionaries give both pronunciations, without any reference to American usage. Maybe I have at some time heard /'k&najn/, but it's certainly IME the rarer pronunciation. As I said, even in the 1950s at our grammar school in S.E. England, /'kejnain/ was the current pronunciation - K9P figured in one of our schoolboy jokes IIRC. But I can well believe the story of Shaw & the BBC. I guess the 'bigwigs' at the BBC were conscious that the Latin 'caninus' has a short 'a'. But I suspect Shaw was aware that /'kejnajn' had a greater currency and, possibly, even then he realized that it was not the BBC's job to prescribe how everyone ought to speak. In any case, the early efforts of the BBC backfired, and when I was young people joked about "BBC English" and certainly the more extreme manifestations of it were regarded as things to avoid if one wanted to sound 'natural'.
>Then again, maybe RP pronunciation has shifted in the last century: >not the first or the last time.
Yep - it's changed during my lifetime. When I was young, /frO:st/, /krO:s/ etc were the RP pronunciation of {frost}, {cross}, now it's just /frQst/, /krQs/ etc. (SAMPA notation: /O/ is open mid back rounded, "turned c"; /Q/ is open back rounded, "turned script a") And the BBC abandoned all pretense of teaching the nation how to speak correctly many decades ago. Ray. PS - I'll be off-line now till Sunday. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================