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Re: OT: Justifying a stress pattern (plus OT: joke last name templates)

From:T. A. McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Monday, December 31, 2007, 3:04
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Dec 30, 2007 12:28 AM, Eric Christopherson <rakko@...> wrote: >> Somewhat off-topic: I was thinking the other day about my last name >> and why it's accented on the second syllable rather than the first >> (vs. the given name Christopher). I have a theory that maybe it's >> because the majority of -erson names in English are accented on the >> syllable just before -erson. > > It's far more general than that. Adding morphemes to English words > often shifts the emphasis. For instance, pick almost any adjective > with stress that's not on the final syllable. If you add "-ity" to > nominalize it, ithe stress shifts: '[fn]ormal => [fn]or'mality, > 'viscous => vis'cosity. 'tranquil => tran'quility; sub'jective => > subjec'tivity. This can happen even when a morpheme is removed first: > a'nonymous => ano'nymity.
And Eric replied:
> Right, but my impression was that those words had gone through > natural evolution in English, whereas borrowed (from Scandinavian) > names would not have gone through it -- but I don't know how long the > name has existed in English; maybe it has been there long enough to > evolve with the rest.
The stress change wasn't evolution in English, it happened in Latin. We simply retained it, for the most part. So a suffix of germanic origin wouldn't be likely to cause stress change other than under the influence of these romance suffixes (this could be viewed as an unnatural evolution, I suppose, if there's any contrast when talking about human social things).
>> It's also funny that people use Mc-, which, being an Irish and >> Scottish Gaelic-derived prefix, doesn't tend to occur along with the >> mostly Scandinavian -[s]son/-[s]sen or German -[s]sohn. There is >> McPherson, but that doesn't count because the -son is not derived >> from its own morpheme. > > Well, I think that's intentional. McSillyson is funny precisely > because it's unlikely - and unlikely because it's redundant. :)
"MacRobertson" is a name that turns up around Melbourne because a man named (of all things) MacPherson Robertson started a confectionery company called MacRobertson's (since bought by Cadbury Schweppes) and got himself a lot of money which he proceeded to throw around. So there's a MacRobertson Girls High School and a MacRobertson Bridge across the Yarra (nowadays pedestrian-only). A part of the Australian Antarctic Territory is also called "Mac Robertson Land". -- Tristan.


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>