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Re: What do you call it

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Thursday, February 27, 2003, 5:12
Sarah Marie Parker-Allen wrote:

Subject: What do you call it
> When a single word has two alternate pronunciations, amongst the same > population (that is, each and every person would say it either way,
> depending on context or a desire to make it rhyme?
In cases where it truly doesn't matter, and there are no conditioning factors whatever-- free variation. The most common ex. is _economic_ and its derivatives: [E]conomic ~ [i]conomic. At least in Amer.Engl. there is no right/wrong-- we may say one, followed by the other a few sentences later. Maybe _diesel_ with an /s/ or /z/ is another. There aren't many. >I see this with "the"
> all the time -- when someone says it normally, it *usually* rhymes with
> vowel in "sun." But, quite often, people switch it to rhyming with "see"
... A little different. Their occurence is generally conditioned, though, true, it's often ignored-- "thuh" before consonants (the president, the fool) "thee" before vowels (the apple, the ichthyologist), including foreign words pronounced more or less correctly-- the hors d'oeuvres [DiOr'd@rvz] (I did say "more or less"!!!-- it's the silent h that counts anyway). The "before vowel" rule can be violated if you insert a glottal stop-- thuh ?eagle, thuh ?elephant. And the consonant rule can be violated for emphasis: "A Bentley is _thee_ car nowadays" In singing, it could be that "thee" predominates because [i] produces a nicer sound than [@].