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Traveling or travelling? Doubling a final consonant when adding a suffix.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by theinquisitor, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. theinquisitor Junior Member

    vigo
    Galicia - Galician
    Hi everybody,

    I have found these two forms in different texts, and I am not very sure about its proper use. I have found that the "single l" form (traveling) is commonly used by American English speakers, and "travelling" is the normative English form, but another doubt arises in me, I thought that the rule to double the final consonant when adding a suffix, suposses that it has to be a stressed syllable which ends in the following structure, "consonat + vowel+ consonant", example: forget - forgetting, am I right? If it is so, is it an exception or am i forgetting anything?

    Thanks in advance,

    Inqui
     
  2. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I was taught that they are both acceptable.
     
  3. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    Traveling is the US spelling, travelling the BE.

    Other examples are:
    counseling/counselling,
    counselor/counsellor,
    modeling/modelling,
    quarreled/quarrelled,
    cruelest/cruellest,
     
  4. theinquisitor Junior Member

    vigo
    Galicia - Galician
    Thank you very much! Do you know anything about the rule i have explained before? maybe I have mistaken it with another thing?
     
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    The 'other' rule is correct.

    Thus in prefer, preferred the R is doubled, but in gather, gathering, the R remains single.
     
  6. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Traveling Vs. Travelling

    ... but there are many exceptions, are there not, as already pointed out in this conversation, such as travelling, counselling, counsellor, modelling, quarrelled, cruellest.

    These (British) English spellings double the consonant even though the preceding syllable is not accented and according to the "rule" no double consonant is needed. The American usage seems to be more consistent in that the consonant is not doubled in these cases.

    One exception often pointed out in both country's usages - though I am sure that there are others - is "formatting", which doubles the consonant even though it seems unnecessary to do so.

    Kidnapping, - which troubled me - from "to kidnap", is said to be a back formation from kidnapper (kid napper = child stealer), which required the double consonant because of the stress on the first syllable. I read that there is an alternative spelling (US, I guess), kidnaper.
     
  7. konungursvia Senior Member

    Toronto
    Canada (English)
    The Americans simplified it to "traveling", cf. "traveler". Use double ll in BE and Canada, Australia, etc.
     
  8. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Thank you, Konungursvia. I shall continue to use the British spellings I learned as a schoolboy in the UK, unless writing to Americans.

    Incidentally, would anybody write "formating" or formated"? I find these spellings in no dictionary, though they would seem reasonable as American usage.

    Perhaps usage has been influenced by " mat / matting / matted " with the result that both "formating" and formated" look too awkward ... ?

    Any thoughts ?
     
  9. dyforlife New Member

    English (American)
    The rules are as follows:
    -If the base verb ends with consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter.
    (This does not apply when the last syllable (thus last vowel) is not stressed.)
    but,
    -If the base verb ends in vowel + consonant + e, omit the e.

    -With verbs that have a stressed but soft vowel sound in the final syllable the consonant is doubled so as not to cause confusion. The base word for: -kidnapping is kidnap and not kidnape
    -formatting is format and not formate
    -forgetting is forget and not forgete

    Finally, it isn't the look (awkward) but the pronunciation that causes the change and despite what you may or may not have read I have never heard of or seen the use of kidnaper in American English. Just remember that American English attempts to minimize the number of exceptions and British English does not. Hope that helps you out a little.

    -Caleb

    PS: Unless you want to look pretentious or haughty, use the rules and not the exceptions when writing to an American Audience.
     
  10. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    .

    Hello, Caleb -


    I feel that Inquisitor and Brioche have got it right.

    They wrote of what must be the one guiding principle - doubtless with hundreds of exceptions - that of stress and length of the final syllable of the root word.

    They also wrote of the British "double 'L' exception".


    Whilst you are quite correct in writing -
    -If the base verb ends with consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter.
    (This does not apply when the last syllable (thus last vowel) is not stressed.)
    and
    -If the base verb ends in vowel + consonant + e, omit the e.

    I would take issue with you, if I may, when you write -
    -With verbs that have a stressed but soft vowel sound in the final syllable the consonant is doubled so as not to cause confusion.

    The doubling of the consonant has little to do with confusion, or lack of it ; it has all to do, I am told, with established orthographic patterns common to those of many other Germanic languages, being based generally upon stress (tonic accent) and vowel length.


    Thus, where we have a stressed short final syllable ending in a single consonant - and only then, it seems - we double the consonant in order to keep the vowel SHORT -
    forget, forgetting ... avoiding forg-[EE]-ting
    remit, remitting ... avoiding rem-[IGH]-ting
    omit, omitting ... avoiding om-[IGH]-ting

    ... but, when the final syllable is unstressed, we don't, since the unstressed vowel remains SHORT in any case -
    visit, visiting
    ticket, ticketing
    docket, docketing

    ... nor do we when the vowel of the final stressed syllable is long, since it is, and remains, LONG -
    remain, remaining
    delete, deleting
    read, reading

    ... and, finally, nor do we when the syllable ends with more than one consonant, since the two consonants ensure that the viwel remain SHORT -
    insist, insisting
    crush, crushing
    thirst, thirsting

    Similarly -
    (p)refer, (p)referring
    lever, levering

    repel, repelling
    rebel, rebelling
    travel, traveling - oh, those wicked Brits, with their travelling !

    open, opening
    underpin,underpinning

    rebut, rebutting
    pivot, pivoting
    etc., etc. ...


    NB :: The letter "v", aongst others, influences vowels in strange ways, and although the following words - and many more, doubtless - have both short-vowel final syllables and a single final consonant, these vowels look "long" because of the archaic final "e", and so do not give rise to a doubling -
    love, live, give = loving, living, giving -
    - and not lovving, livving, givving - which do have a certain zany, Cartesian logic to them !


    Of course, there are so many exceptions out there in English orthography that I understand the above only as guiding principles. I would never like to speak of rules as such, much less of "Rules" !



    You end by writing that -
    ... it isn't the look (awkward) but the pronunciation that causes the change and despite what you may or may not have read I have never heard of or seen the use of kidnaper in American English.

    But I merely wished to point out that the look of a "correct" form can be awkward, especially so in composite words, where the eye is naturally attracted towards a final, simple and separable element where a doubling is natural, as in, for example, "to kidnap", which reads easily as - and once was - to kid nap, or to kid-nap - "to steal (nab) a child (kid) [for ransom]".

    In view of the double nature of such words, I am quite happy with both forms -
    kidnap, kidnapped / kidnaped
    ... as are those entries you will find under "kidnaper" in Dictionary.com, linked to this very forum -To show that the spelling, whilst not terribly common, is alive and well in the States at least, I append below links to some articles which have appeared in the US press employing the contested spelling.



    Now "format" is a tricky one, since my ear, at least, hears the word almost as a spondee rather than as a trochee, which it undoubtedly still is, though it may change camp one of these days. This effect, heard also in "kidnap", is helped by the clarity of the "A" vowel, and perhaps has given us the forms -
    formatting, formatted, formatter
    ... as though the secondary stress on the second syllable were frankly equal to that on the first - which I don't really quite yet feel.

    Usage is all, though, and these forms are obviously quite correct, as are all forms of all words which are legitimately used, such is the fluidity of our beautiful and supple tongue.

    However, I would defend those who wish to write, and say -
    formating, formated, formater
    I would give you a few links to "formating" but, to be frank, a simple Google search throws up so many examples that I'll leave it to you to trawl through them at your leisure, should you so desire.

    Honesty does obliges me, though, to say that I have found these latter spellings in no dictionary so far, though they are much more widely used than the single "T" forms of "kidnap" ! Strange ...

    I rest my case.


    In closing, I would say that I do use US spellings quite often - and not only when writing to those to whom those usages come naturally - since I find many of them simpler, clearer and more elegant than the British forms.

    However, I would not feel awkward in using the British spellings of my childhood when writing to my friends on the other side of the pond ; nor would I feel awkward - as must be clear - in reading the US spellings which come naturally to them.

    Indeed, I would defend diversity to the very end, and the right of all to use the forms they feel most at home with.

    Please do forgive me, one and all, the length of this interminable post


    Best wishes -

    Ian


    Here are some of those links toUS usage of "kidnaper" - there are many more out there -


    https://www.nydailynews.com/archive...1997-05-05_kidnaper_of_2_gets_75_to_life.html

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,806608,00.html

    http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Public...idnaper of Frederick Woman Pleads Guilty.html

    http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Public...ick Woman Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison.html

    http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/hijackers/kidnaper-sentenced.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Interesting post, Ian:)

    I do think you're right that the reason we write "kidnapped", "formatted" and so on is that the second syllable of "kidnap" and "format" is not unstressed, although it does bear a lesser stress than the first syllable.
     
  12. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK

    Thank you, Loob - much appreciated.

    Yes, I guess it must be that. "Kidnap" really feels like two words, though I do find the case of "format" puzzling.

    There's probably lots more of them out there - "in-putting / inputing", maybe, for instance !


    Best to you -

    Ian
     
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes, that's another good example: the second syllable of "input" bears quite a lot of stress - hence :tick:inputting rather than :cross:inputing.

    I think you should write a textbook, Ian bach:)
     
  14. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    While we're on the subject, it might be worth noting that there's an exception to the rule of always doubling the <l> in British-style orthography - this is parallel (hence paralleled otherwise we have an over-abundance of <l>s).

    British style spelling also allows for some gemination (doubling) of <s> after unstressed syllables: so you can write either focused or focussed; biased or biassed.
     
  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I wouldn't write "biassed" or "focussed".
    Nor would I write "paralleled".
    :(
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  16. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Ah, that's interesting. I haven't had much occasion to write paralleled, but this was garnered from an old school textbook. So you'd write parallelled then?

    My impression is that biassed is more common that focussed. My own usage vacillates between focused and focussed.
     
  17. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Rats ! I knew there was another UK tolerance but couldn't for the life of me remember it. 'S' it is, then. Thank you, natkretep !

    Interesting, Loob, which forms we use. I guess if push came to shove I would go for focused, biased and paralleled, for the look of the thing as much as anything, if I came to use them. So there you are, just personal taste again, which is important, I think.


    I am reminded of the debate over the plural of bus -

    Bus = buses / busses
    The first is simple, the second fussier -
    The first breaks the "rule, the second doesn't -
    The first looks like byoozes to some, to others not -
    So you takes your pick, I guess !

    So, to put the cat amongst the pigeons, how about -
    Bus = bussing / busing // bussed / bused - ???
    Any ideas ?


    Best -

    Ian


    PS I ought to have added in my interminable post, for consistency's sake, two things -

    1) Thus, where we have a stressed short final syllable - and only then - we double the consonant - BUT ONLY IF THE SYLLABLE ENDS WITH A SINGLE CONSONANT ...

    So there would be no doubling after the final, short, and stressed syllables of -
    insist, insisting
    crush, crushing
    thirst, thirsting

    2) "v" influences vowels in strange ways, and although the following words - amongst others - have both short-vowel final syllables and a single final consonant, these vowels look "long" because of the archaic final "e", so don't give rise to a doubling. For example -
    love, live, give = loving, living, giving -
    - and not lovving, livving, givving - which do have a certain zany Cartesian logic to them !


    I look forward to more exchanges. Thank you -

    Ian
     
  18. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I prefer focussed and biassed*, and if I did ever have to write it, I'm sure I'd spell that word paralleled. (*Or do I prefer biased? I'm not sure now ~ will have to wait and see what happens next time I write it. Wonderfully inconsistent as ever:))

    I'm pretty sure I've seen both formated and formating.
     
  19. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK

    You have, Ewie. There are as many formatings as formattings to be found on a Google search.

    I think it's great ! They're all out there, Ewie - right / wrong, ugly / pretty, consistent / inconsistent, stylish / awkward : and isn't that just the beauty of it all ?!


    Best -

    Ian
     
  20. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I've been thinking about natkretep's "paralleled".

    I was wrong in post 15. On reflection, I'm sure I'd write "unparalleled" so logically I would write "paralleled", too...

    Woman's prerogative and all that:D
     
  21. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK

    Hello, Loob and all partaking of this thread -


    I found what you had to say interesting, so I googled unparallelled : the first entry was this -


    After a search through the topic there, I found there the following three
    salient points -

    Target

    Mistakes are also often made with ‘target’. This happens because it is thought to be like ‘get’ and ‘getting’, but it is not, as the natural stress is not in the same place.

    Interesting that they should mention the look of the second syllable, and the confusion with get ...

    Worship, Handicap, Kidnap

    … ‘worship’, ‘handicap’ and ‘kidnap’ become ‘worshipping/worshipped’, ‘handicapping/handicapped’ and ‘kidnapping/kidnapped’ in standard received British English.

    And I'd forgotten all about worship and handicap !


    Now all three words - and others, surely - end in familiar-looking simple words which, on their own, take a doubled consonant - ship, cap and nap. Would this alone be enough to lead us instinctively to prefer the look of the doubled consonant, without reflecting upon the stress, I wonder ?


    I have found both single- and double-consonant options through dictionary.com - linked to this forum - for both worship and kidnap, but NOT for handicap, strangely enough ... ! Is this because it is rather more of a cretic than a dactyl, with a good strong secondary accent on -cap, or is it again just the look of the thing ?


    Handicaped
    - how does that look ? OK, no ... ? There are plenty out there on Google ! I'd quite happily
    use it, I think.

    Would it be
    more often used in the States, I wonder ?


    And finally, still from that future-pefect link -

    What about ‘focus’?
    This word can take either double or single s, with the single option being highly preferred.


    Here’s an odd one to end:
    American / British

    parallel / parallel
    paralleling / parallelling
    paralleled / parallelled

    Example:

    The vetting service from Future Perfect is unparallelled.


    Ha-ha-ha !!!


    Best to all -


    Ian



     
  22. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I've never seen anything but <ss> here: busses, bussed, bussing - despite the fact that doubling generally does not occur for plurals.

    This is because other monoyllabic nouns ending with a /s/ sound (and with a short vowel sound) already have <ss> without the plural (mass, miss, fuss, loss, lass, mess) - but with a notable exception gas: doubling for verb inflexions (gassed) but either version for plural (gases, gasses - I think I'm influenced by my old science textbook which used gases).

    Bus is a special case because it is a clipping of omnibus, which would have a regular plural omnibuses.

    Ah, this is to do with certain letters NEVER getting doubled - <x> and <v>. I assume you'd never double <x> because it represents two consonant sounds /ks/; and you'd never double <v> because historically <vv> was another way of writing <w>, and also in the base form there is always a silent <e> after them. And I'm sure the fact that the letter <v> is a relatively late import had something to do with this (it's never used in Old English).
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  23. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    ~

    Thank you, natkretep, for all your observations, which are most interesting. I had never thought about the non-doubling of 'v' and 'x' before, nor, obviously, of the reasons behind this - most instructive.


    Being of a mischievous turn of mind this morning, I dug out the following references : I hope you'll like them.


    So -


    From -

    http://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Category:English_plurals&from=garnierites

    gases – but not gasses !
    buses – and also busses !

    But, of course, that's from only one of many dictionaries.


    And -


    But how about these lovely words ? I knew the first, but not the second.


    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=skivvy

    skivvy, skivvies – n.
    to skivvy, skivvying, skivvied –v.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spivvy

    n. spivvy, spivvies – n.


    That doubled 'v' negates the possible pronunciation"ski[Y]vy", I guess, though quite why this should not be felt necessary in the word "privy, privies", is a mystery to which I am not privy !


    Happy hunting ! Thank you once again, natkretep, and one and all -

    Ian
     
  24. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Can we assume you've heard of luvvies, Ian?
     
  25. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    Heard of them ? I invented them !

    As a disadvantaged Mancunian, you must know that the nirvana from which I hail, Barrow-in-Furness, positively heaves with artistic types and swelters in sophistication.


    Great point, Ewie. Thanks !


    Best -

    Ian
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  26. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK

    Talking of luvvies ...
    Kissing and bussing differ both in this,
    We busse our wantons, but our wives we kisse.

    Robert Herrick, "Hesperides," 1648​
    Those blessed buses / busses again - they always turn up at least two at a time !


    Best -

    Ian
     
  27. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks for the other examples. I suppose my answer would be that skivvies and luvvies are a more recent words. We can also add savvy, also a new-comer (from French savoir).And I suppose skivvies makes sense in the context of similar words like skiver.

    Yes, the general lack of doubling for <v> means that you are never sure how to pronounce words like live in isolation. There's also the inconsistency in words like liver and diver that look as if they should rhyme.

    Also: I think <h>, <j> and <w> also don't get doubled - but this time because the sounds represented by <h> and <w> are not pronounced at the end of syllables in English. I can only think of 'hajj', 'hajji' (a man who's been on the haj) for double <j>, but even then I think the single <j> spelling is more common.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  28. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK



    Many thanks for these observations and clarifications, natkretep. Most interesting.


    Having read you, I had a few thoughts



    • 1) ... skivvies and luvvies are a more recent words.

    Yes, I think you're right about the nature of those words taking a doubled 'v' - they're all of modern origin. Here's a few more I found -

    bevvy, bivvy, bovver, chivvy, or chevvy (from Chevy Chase), civvy, divvy, flivver - remember that old Model T Ford ! - , navvy - as opposed to navy -, sivvens, etc. ...


    ... though the only directly relevant verb with a single v doubling before suffixes I could find was -
    rev, revving, revved ...

    - itself an abbreviation, of course.

    However, I think an important general point - though slightly off-topic, perhaps - might be made when considering these modern words.

    It seems that we are happier in these neologisms when doubling the 'v' (though, as you point out, long tradition dictate no such doubling of this letter), either consciously, through analogy with other letters which must double to preserve the preceding short and stressed vowel, or, perhaps, and unconsciously, because it looks "better" that way, being good practice for those other letters.

    The spelling of some slang terms, such as -
    summat, wanna, wannabee, etc.
    ... have possibly have been affected by these tendencies.


    We seem to be influenced after all, like it or lump it, and pace dyforlife, by the look of the word, often applying English phonetic "rules" by the book, and by the bucket !


    * * *



    • 2) ... the general lack of doubling for <v> means that you are never sure how to pronounce words like live in isolation.

    That's right, and the vowel 'I', especially - and 'E' to some extent - is a minefield in any case, preserving short vowels where the 'rules' would seem to dictate a long one -
    - general, give, love, merit, ministry, &c.

    [instead of genneral, givve, lovve, merrit, minnistry, &c. ...]

    ... though many have made concessions, of course -
    dinner, mirror, jelly, kennel, &c.
    ... often adapting an OE or ME single-consonant version taken from MF or OF.


    And would you care to explain to me, natkretep -


    • " a unit of time, the minute " - which 'logically' might EITHER be pronounced 'mYnit', OR be written 'minnit' - and...
    • " a minute unit of time, the nanosecond " - which 'logically' might be pronounced 'minn(Y)Ute', as its spelling implies, OR spelt 'mynute' - well, I guess some folk pronounce it 'minn(Y)Ute', in any case ...
    !!!!!!!

    • 3) Also: I think <h>, <j> and <w> also don't get doubled ...

    I think you are also right about the terminal consonants 'h', 'j', 'w"; you wrote earlier of the letter "x". And were "y" and "z" mentioned ?

    I can find no XX, HH, WW, YY or JJ anywhere, except in foreign, invented and compound words, let alone a doubled final consonant with suffix, which, lest I forget, is our topic.


    The case of 'x' you have explained - it is already a double letter, 'ks'.

    No doubled 'h's ? I'm no grammarian or phonetician, so I can't explain it - but it does seems self-evident, doen't it !


    For 'w' and 'y' to double in an intervocalic or terminal position they would - logically - be doing so in order to 'conserve' a preceding short and stressed vowel. They seem, rather, to be 'absorbed' by the preceding vowel, giving for example -
    he was toying with his food
    he was sawing the logs

    If, instead, there were, just for the sake of argument, a 'new' verb, such as TAW, pronounced as in Welsh - that is, sounding like 'TA-OO', with a short and stressed 'a', (pronounced SA, as in 'sat', and not as in 'saw'), followed by 'w' (as in 'with') - we might just like to think that this would give us -
    taw, tawwed, tawwing - pronounced something like ta-oo, ta-ood, ta-oo-wing ...
    ... an any confusion with the sound of saw, sawed, sawing would, thereby, be avoided.


    Well, I don't know of one - do you ?!
    Idem, for doubled 'y' ...

    Apart from the word hajj you mention, I can't find any double 'j's.

    Apart from foreign words, I find only the following where a single 'j' follows a stressed short vowel, and where we might just expect to find a double 'j' to 'preserve' the quality of that vowel -


    MAJESTY – once majesty or even majesty … ???

    PREJUDICE – but prob. once prejudice, influenced by prejudge

    PRO
    JECT, n – often pronounced with a long O - but project, v. - from the French, in any case …


    SOJOURN, v, n – but long O for some speakers, or sojourn for the v.

    PAJOCK – obs. … was it a long O ??? - was it once pajock … ???

    TRAJET – obs; variant of treget


    Why so ? I guess most come through French, and that the stress originally fell later in the word, so that the quality of the syllable now stressed was not in question in the adpting language. Some have long vowels for some speakers. As for the last two delightful and joyful examples, I haven't a clue how they are - or were - spoken.

    Gorgeous words, pajock and trajet - must bring 'em back !



    Other words have, undoubtedly, changed their pronunciation along with the shift in stress, e.g. -

    MAJOR - which has long 'A' vowel nowadays, as we all know, instead of the original short one.


    But nine times out of ten, where a double 'j' might be thought necessary, the "default combination", 'DG', is intead used, as in -
    – BADGER, EDGE, MIDGET, LODGE, BUDGE
    A thought - perhaps, then, the letter 'J' is perceived by English speakers, somewhere deep down in the bowels, as a double letter, and thus needing no redoubling ... ?

    (Interestingly, the French, when in need of an vaguely English-sounding 'J' write it as 'DJ' to distinguish it from the sound of the French 'J' as in "jolie". An example which springs to mind is DJERBA, the Tunisian island, often rendered in English as Jerba, Jarbah or Girba.)


    Best -

    Ian
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  29. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK


    Just for a laugh ...


    There are plenty of double 'z's out there - jazz, &c. -


    But a single and terminal one ... ?
    Yes, it's ...
    FEZ ...

    - giving rise, of course, to the unbelievebly spiffy - or spivvy, if you prefer - verb, to befez !


    I quote from no dictionary known to man -
    Befez, v. - "to deck the head with a fez"
    I befez, I am befezzing, I am befezzed !

    I kid you not - it's out there. Check it out, folks !

    Finally - and then I really will shut up -


    • A Curiosity in Zs ...
    The English word oyez, as in "Oyez ! Oyez !", gives rise, I learn, not to a plethora of oyezes or even of oyezzes, but of ...

    ~ oyesses ~

    ... based upon one of its known pronunciations !

    Happy Zedding - or should that be Zeeing ? -

    Ian

     
  30. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, Ian. The complications arise when you have loan-words.

    MINUTE in both senses - the adjective meaning 'small' and the noun meaning 'part of an hour' or 'part of a degree' - is derived from Latin.

    The OED notes:

    So it looks as if MINUTE is a special case, to do with changing pronunciation and the spelling not keeping pace with this. The existing spelling, I think, suggests a stressed second syllable with a long <u> sound - which is how it is pronounced to mean 'small'. When the stress was moved to the first syllable, the vowel length also shortened. (Think of 'child' [long vowel] v. 'children' [short vowel].) Nobody bothered to update the spelling to, say, minnute or even minnet.

    Nat
     
  31. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK

    Thanks, Nat, for your explanations and references.

    I guess that the moving stress syndrome explains many apparent anomalies. I believe that the words 'sonorous' and 'timorous' were once - still are ? - pronounced sonorous and timorous, and that the quality of the vowels has duly changed, though not the spellings. * however, see below -

    There is an interesting case in Handel's "Messiah", in the bass aria 'The Trumpet shall sound'. In early editions, the word 'incorruptible' is stressed
    incorruptible, [ "comfortable", etc., I believe, appear in other musical sources -] which nobody can sing nowadays with conviction.

    It seems that the underlay of the text was early changed, in any case, to reflect the modern pronunciation.

    It is, of course, possible that it was just a mistake on the part of Handel, scribe or typesetter - I forget just where I have seen the example - so it may be taken with a pinch of salt.



    Minute, the adjective - 'Minn(Y)Ute' would make sense, and some perhaps pronounce it so. But, when I pronounce it, it comes out almost as a spondee, which would tie up well with the usual (?) pronunciation with two long vowels -
    'my-nu(te)'. Not that any justification is needed, of course - this is English spelling we're talking about.


    Best -

    Ian

    * Interesting note on the - two - pronunciations of sonorous at -and - same link -
    "Two linguists on the Panel noted that whereas they stress the first syllable, they pronounce it with a long (o), as (sō'nər-əs)." - thus pronouncing "by the rules" what they see !
    Timorous seems to have gone the whole way. Looking at the origins of the words, however, perhaps I am wrong in thinking that this word was ever pronounced with a frank accent on the second syllable -
    L sonōrus
    ML timōrōsus
     
  32. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Handel's English was strange even at the time he wrote it. (His German was more idiomatic.)
     

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