Spelling-pronunciation mismatches

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Dymn, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    Are there any words in your language which meet the following criteria:
    • There is a usual (not necessarily majoritary but quite frequent) way to pronounce them in colloquial language (maybe even in formal language as well) which doesn't match the standard spelling.
    • This mismatch is not a consistent, regular phenomenon.
    In (Central) Catalan, probably as a result of a late standardization, we have many of those cases:
    • Sometimes schwa is elided between a consonant and an r: berenar > b'renar "afternoon snack", però > p'rò "but", taronja > t'ronja "orange", veritat > v'ritat "truth"
    • The initial vowel of a deictic is sometimes elided when combined with per: per això > per'xò "for this", per allò > per'llò "for that", per aquí > per'quí "around here", per allà > per'llà "around there"
    • The initial a in conjugations of the verb anar is often elided: anem > 'nem "let's go"
    • Other cases: aquest > aquet "this", doncs > dons "so"
    English has many many more but it's a whole 'nother story :p

    What about your language(s)?
  2. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I may have misunderstood your question, but it seems this probably exists in most if not all languages. :confused:
  3. Armas Senior Member


    ruoka "food", genitive ruoan is pronounced ruuan
    vuoka "baking mold", genitive vuoan is pronounced vuuan

    I think this happens to avoid the awkward uoa. However, the spelling with two u's is now accepted as well.
  4. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    Well, that's the point I guess, since we're in the All Languages forum, to share examples from a language you know ;)
  5. Ghabi

    Ghabi AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod

    Hong Kong
    You mean you want a list of words in a language which don't match their spellings? Do you think the list would be too long to be meaningful in some languages?
  6. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    Well, Poêle is pronounced /pwal/ in French as if it should have been written "poille". The past participle eu is /y/ and doesn't rhyme with eux as most learners expect. The e serves no role here.
  7. Ghabi

    Ghabi AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod

    Hong Kong
    And femme and sept?
  8. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Modern Greek has a few, we have retained historical orthography although the ancient diphthongs have (at least since the 9th-10th c. CE) become monophthongs (a few examples):

    -Classical Greek «εἶδος» [ˈei̯.dos] (neut.) > Modern Greek «είδος» [ˈi.ðɔs] (neut.) --> kind, species, (pl.) goods, wares, from PIE *weyd-.

    -Classical Greek «οἶκος» [ˈoi̯.kos] (masc.) > Modern Greek «οίκος» [ˈi.kɔs] (masc.) --> house, household from PIE *weyḱ-.

    -Classical Greek «αἷμα» [ˈhai̯.ma] (neut.) > Modern Greek «αίμα» [ˈe.ma] (neut.) --> blood (of unclear etymology, the older view of a possible IE root *sei̯- to drip cognate with Welsh hufen, German Seim has been abandoned).
  9. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    I'm not asking for an exhaustive list, just the most striking and frequent examples.

    But these spelled diphthongs are consistently pronounced that way in all words, right?
  10. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    Maybe I haven't given it enough thought, but I don't think Italian has any of these. Mispronunciations in Italian usually are due:
    1) uncertainties as to the position of the word stress; e.g., the word edile ('building', as an adjective) "should" be pronounced edìle but often people say èdile. But anyway word stress is not indicated in the spelling, so both pronunciations are compatible with it.
    2) mispronunciation due to unfamiliarity with a specific word (but these are not 'usual mispronunciations').
    3) mispronunciations due to regional accents, e.g. pronouncing t, s, p as /d/, /z/, /b/ after the consonant n and in some other situations (eg in the words 'penso', 'pronto') which is typical of some Southern accents. But these are a regular phenomenon.
    4) With respect to the traditional Tuscan model of Italian there are regional variations concerning s, z, e, o and the way to treat consonant doubling in some cases, but again these variations are a regular phenomenon and in any case they are not considered mistakes.

    Perhaps I can mention that the word 'niente' (=nothing) /ˈnjɛnte/ is sometimes (especially in fast speech) pronounced as if it were written gniente, i. g. /ˈŋɛnte/ (or /ˈnjente/ v. /ˈŋɛnte/ depending on your region), but it's a very minor thing.
  11. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    I've found this thread in which there are two curious examples which may just be what you're looking for. The first is the word collutorio 'mouthwash' which is (often? usually? always?) pronounced 'colluttorio' (i.e., with a double t). The second is the word subacqueo 'underwater, subaqueous' which is (often? usually? always?) pronounced 'subaqueo' (i.e., with a single /k/ sound). I also pronunce these words in the 'wrong' way. In fact, it seems very possible to me that these 'wrong' pronunciations are used much more often than the official 'spelling' pronunciations. Hard to tell for sure, though.
  12. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    I would add some more Italian examples:
    aeroporto (airport) and aeroplano (airplane), often pronounced as areoporto and areoplano (at least in Northern Italy),
    meteorologo (meteorologist) and meteorologia (meteorology), often pron. metereologo / metereologia ( '' ),
    aerazione (ventilation), often pronounced areazione,
    (to accelerate), often pronounced with double L (accellerare),
    (drying/desiccation), often pronounced/written with one c: essicazione
  13. TheCrociato91 Senior Member

    Brescia, Italy
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Well, shame on me. I also pronounce them the wrong way. :(

    Agreed. Especially with number 1, 2 and 5, which are the ones I'm most familiar with.

    One more Italian example that comes to mind: proprio pronounced as propio.
    As far as I know this occurs especially in casual, fast everyday speech, where the "standard" Italian trill /r/ is often reduced to a tap [ɾ] in intervocalic position and word-internally, which may be further reduced to a complete drop. Outside of casual discourse, however, this is often labeled as a trait of uneducated speech.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  14. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Indeed they are, if you're interested in dialectal variations within MoGr, in the NW dialects -Thessalian mostly- (i) the vowel between two consonants is omitted, (ii) often the suffixal vowel in also omitted, (iii) /ɔ/ is pronounced /u/:

    -SMG (Standard Modern Greek) «γυναίκα» [ʝiˈne.ka] (fem. nom. sing.) --> woman which is the accusative of the Classical «γυνή» gŭnḗ (PIE *gʷḗn) > Thessalian pronunciation [ˈɣne.ka]

    -Thessalian «γομάρι» (neut. nom. sing.) --> donkey, horse, mule, which is the Byzantine Greek neuter diminutive «γομάρι(ο)ν» gomári(o)n --> init. cargo, freight, later, the working animal used to carry cargo < Classical masc. «γόμος» gómŏs --> cargo, freight (of unclear etymology); in the SMG lamguage, this rare noun is pronounced [ɣɔˈma.ɾi], in the Thessalian regiolect (used quite often) it's [ˈɣmar] or [ɣuˈmar]

    -SMG «ψωμί» [p͜sɔˈmi] (neut. nom. sing.) --> bread < Βyz. Greek neut. diminutive «ψωμί(ο)ν» p͜sōmí(o)n --> morsel, bit, later, bread (it was so common to eat a morsel of bread when hungry, that it eventually replaced «ἄρτος» in everyday speech), an ω- vocalism of Classical v. «ψῆν» p͜sên (found only in Present infinitive) --> to rub, grate, scratch, stroke, wipe (probably Pre-Greek).
    In the NW dialects it's pronounced [p͜suˈmi]
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  15. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    We definitely differentiate between 'colloquial language/colloquial accents' and dialects. The examples mentioned in #10 to 13 are in Italian colloquial language, as requested by the OP. If we had to deal with dialects, regionlal variations would be innumerable, since It. dialects are quite different and 'warped' with respect to the standard language.
    An example from Bologna:
    Italian standard: sono sèmpre tutti così (all are always like this)
    Bolognese colloquial accent: son sémpre tutti così
    Bolognese dialect: ién samper tótt acsé (s pronounced almost as sh).
  16. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    And why is that? This comes from acqua so I'd expect the double consonant to be applied to derivatives as well. Is there any word in Italian related to Latin aqua which is spelled and pronounced with an only /k/ sound?

    In Catalan we distort these words in a different way, we'd say airoport instead of aeroport, adapting this diphthong to a more native one. Even the Japanese cartoon Doraemon gets pronounced Doraimon.

    Just like Spanish (and therefore Catalan, and I've checked... Galician too), where it has become the official spelling. It also reminds me of prendre ("to take") in Catalan, and derivatives like aprendre ("to learn"), which are pronounced pendre and apendre in verb forms which feature this -ndr- cluster.

    I should also add per'vui instead of per avui "for today"
  17. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    Lorraine in France
    English (US Northeast)
    @Dymn It's funny, normally contractions are made to make pronunciation easier. These reductions with per make it harder, no? Is the r pronounced in per? Is it pabui, pallò, paxò?
  18. Dymn

    Dymn Senior Member

    Yes, it's /pəɾˈβui̯/, /pəɾˈʎɔ/, /pəɾˈʃɔ/, etc. And it's not like it's making it harder, all of these clusters appear in other words.

    No, reductions take place indistinctly with either consonants or vowels because of fast-spoken language. Some languages have a tendency for one of those, which is probably due to syllable- vs. stress-timed languages (more on the matter). Stress-timed languages trigger vowel reduction which often means the elision of vowels. Look at European Portuguese. Unstressed /ɨ/'s and /u/'s are elided, for example hipótese is pronounced /iˈpɔts/. EP is a strongly stressed-timed language. Genuine Catalan is also stressed-timed, although this is rapidly changing since prosody is the phonological aspect which is being more and more Castilianized. On the other hand Spanish is strongly syllable-timed, I once asked the Sólo Español form for examples of vowel reduction or elision (here) and I was given really weak phenomena.

    There's like the idea that sound changes strive for "easiness", and this means vowels are preserved while consonants are not, but this is far from true. There are so many counterexamples that it's not even an exception. Yes, it's easier to pronounce porto than port, but port is shorter and more laid-back. That's why it happened. In French and Catalan. Now in Portuguese. Language "shrinks" getting rid of redundancies through phonological change and "stretches" avoiding ambiguities through morphological methods. In the end, so many years of language evolution must mean we have reached an overall equilibrium. The same goes for those who think the natural path of languages is to "simplify", like we've been dropping grammatical cases since the beginning of times without ever creating new ones.
  19. Awwal12

    Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    Russian orthography is not phonemic. Although with an extensive list of rules and exceptions you largely can decipher the pronunciation, IF you know the stressed syllable as well (but the stress is usually marked only in dictionaries and in ambiguous cases).
    However, since the orthography does not consistently oppose hard (velarized) and soft (palatalized) paired consonants before /e/ phoneme (native words have only soft consonants there, but the amount of loanwords is obviously huge), the pronunciation in this position is a mess. Generally the loanwords, originally having hard phonemes before /e/, tend to acquire soft consonants there instead, particularly in unstressed syllables. So, for example, while most people pronounce "секс" (seks, i.e. sex) as [sɛks], for some speakers it's [sʲɛks], and with "сексуальный" (seksuál'nyi) the variation is even more arbitrary.

    Many frequent words undergo changes similar to English "gonna", "wanna", "gimme" etc. in casual speech. That includes, but is not limited to, "kogdá" (when) > "kodá", "togdá" (then, at that moment) > "todá", "čegó" (of what) > "čo", "čelovék" (human, person) > "ček", "tebé" (to you) > "te", "seyčás" (now) > "sčas", "tól'ko" (only) > "tóko", etc. (I won't bother you with actual pronunciations of these, considering the first statement in my post - and that Russian has an extensive reduction of vowels on phonetic level to the top of it.)

    Even more than one millennium after the Slavic mutations in the /TorT/ and /TolT/ combinations, liquids still create some sort of pronunciation inconsistences in Russian. For instance, "próvoloka" (wire) most of the time is pronounced as if it was written either "próvolka" (you can even hear that in songs) or "próvloka", with one syllable less either way. "Mladénets" (toddler; a Church Slavonic loanword), on the other hand, is often pronounced as if it was written "molodénets" (that may be influenced by the native Russian adjective "molodóy" - "young", but still). A complete mess.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  20. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    You are right, according to the spelling it should be pronounced with a 'double /k/' sound, I don't know why I (as many others) would pronounce it with a single /k/ sound. By the way, I think I'd also pronounce the adjective 'acqueo' with a single /k/ sound, for example in the expression 'vapore acqueo' (water vapour). In any case my dictionary reports only 5 Italian words using the a(c)queo root: acqueo, sopracqueo, sottacqueo, subacqueo, terracqueo/terraqueo (both versions are reported). Personally I'd pronounce with a single /k/ acqueo, subaqueo, terraqueo (a very rare word, anyway). I don't know why but I'd probably pronounce sopracqueo/sottacqueo with the double /k/ , although these words are so rare that I don't think I've ever uttered them in all my life.
  21. Red Arrow

    Red Arrow Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    Dutch bijzonder is pronounched bizonder, and ambt is pronounced amt. I can't think of any other words.
  22. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Any word with the element -en ...? :D
  23. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    "Lelijk" and "vrolijk" come to mind.
  24. Red Arrow

    Red Arrow Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    But if the suffixes -lijk, -isch and -en count, then Merquiades should mention almost all French verb endings!

    Also, not all people drop final N, but most do. (I sure do)

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