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The Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving had been forced to select a settlement-site quickly, "for we could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th of December."

Today's word fits our "feast" theme and also begins our new theme, "Words Not Pronounced As You'd Expect From Their Spelling". That's a large set of words, given the vagaries of English spelling (who would expect "one" to be pronounced with an initial w sound?), from which we'll try to make some interesting selections.

victual (pronounced "vittle") – food fit for human consumption
victuals (pronounced "vittles") – food supplies; provisions

The pronunciation reflects the immediate source, Old French vitaille. But that French word traces to Late Latin victualia "provisions" (Latin victus "livelihood, food, sustenance" and vivere "to live"). Though the English pronunciation remained fixed, over time the spelling was changed to reflect the earlier Late Latin, by adding back the c and the u. (Apparently the c came earlier, and the u later.)
    The lunch hut on the grouse moor has long been a place for the grand to slum it. … A gamekeeper brings victuals from the big house - filled baps, fruit cake and Penguin biscuits - and much alcoholic drink is drunk.
    – Telegraph, March 29, 2008 (P.S.: Isn't the grouse another rasorial bird?)
Bonus Word:
bap
Brit.: a soft, round, flattish bread roll

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Hmm, interesting that the existing word spelled the old way - vital - should come to be pronounced differently considering that its routes must certainly be similar - Latin vita meaning "life", for example. I suppose it could be argued that they have similar meanings, what with food supplies and provisions being essential - indeed, vital - for life.


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If your rhubarb is forwards, bend it backwards.
 
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I think I've talked about this before but in my regional dialect we use the word "fittle" which is, I believe a corrupted version of "victuals" or "vittles". It's commonly heard in the phrase "bostin' fittle" - "great food".
 
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indict (pronounced "inDITE", not "inDIKT") – to accuse of a crime or other offense

The history is similar to victuals. Middle Latin indictare ("to declare in writing") came into Old French without the c, as enditer, then from French to English as indyte (after shifting its meaning to today's sense). Later the English spelling indyte was re-Latinized by adding back the c, but the English pronunciation remained unchanged.
    "I'm sure," Nash said as he backed away. "Why don't you call that reporter and find out why he's printing lies about the CIA. Maybe you could indict him for treason."
    – Vince Flynn, Extreme Measures

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In today's word we see a different stage of this discrepancy between spelling and pronunciation. As with victuals and indict, the French took this word from Latin but dropped a k-sound from spelling and pronunciation. Once again, English took it from French in that form, and later reverted to the classical spelling with a k-sound, but retained the non-classical k-less pronunciation, SIZ-əm.

But more recently the English pronunciation has been changing to reflect the classical spelling. As recently as 1989 OED noted, "The pronunciation SKIZ-əm [is] widely regarded as incorrect." But OED itself treated this with-the-K version as acceptable, and nowadays many dictionaries list it as the preferred pronunciation. The clergy, however, still tends to favor the K-less pronunciation.

schism – a separation or division into factions; or, more generally, disunion; discord
    The prolonged Democratic primary exposed a major schism among Democrats in regards to Iraq.
    – (Philadelphia) Evening Bulletin, Nov. 21, 2008

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Interesting that we've retained the "k" sound in "schizophrenia."

And the Orthodox clergy still refer to the "skizm" of 1054...


RJA
 
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And "school" and "schedule" and "scheme."


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Interesting that "schedule" shares an etymology with "schism."


RJA
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
....... (P.S.: Isn't the grouse another rasorial bird?)


Yes. In fact, you noted it as such in the original "rasorial" listing on Nov.16. The list was...turkey, chicken, partridge, grouse, quail
and peacock. That got me thinking (which I normally try to avoid) that all the birds in this list of rasorial birds are members of the order galliformes. All, indeed, scratch the ground for a living.
However, I wonder if the word is ornithologically confined to galliformes. The charming little Fox Sparrow ( Passerella iliaca) which is an even earlier harbinger of spring in my neighbourhood than the Robin, is about as rasorial as a bird can be, in that, unlike the galliformes, it scratches with both feet simultaneously!
 
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coney (pronounced with long o; does not rhyme with honey or money) – a rabbit

Originally this word was the usual name for this animal, and its pronunciation did rhyme with honey and money. In fact, it was often spelled as sounded, cunny. As you might guess, coney/cunny became slang for a certain part of the female anatomy.

With that, how would someone refer to the animal in decent speech? The term used to avoid indelicacy was rabbit (which had previously meant only the young animal), and coney became somewhat obsolete. It couldn't become entirely obsolete, however, since it appears in the King James Bible. So when people had to use the word coney, they pronounced it with a long o, rhyming with boney, to avoid any hint of the naughty c-word. As OED puts it, "It is possible, however, that the desire to avoid certain vulgar associations with the word in the cunny form, may have contributed to the preference for a different pronunciation in reading the Scriptures."

But during the transition, there was many a bawdy pun to be made on coney. For example:
    Good Lord, what pretty things these conies are;
    How finely they do feed ..
    And then what a sweet meat a coney is,
    And what smooth skins they have, both black and gray.
    They say they run more in the night than day.
    – Henry Porter (died 1599), The Two Angry Women of Abington

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Is the schism pronunciation difference an English/American difference, do you think? I've only heard it pronounced with a "k" by Americans.
 
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kalleh:

It does seem the difference is English/American, with original Greek having the "k" sound as well.

Is it really the fault of the French (1066 and all that)?


RJA
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Is the schism pronunciation difference an English/American difference, do you think? I've only heard it pronounced with a "k" by Americans.


I'm interested and intrigued by this because I have never heard an Englishman pronounce it as anything but with a "k". Until I read the OED quote I was unaware of the k-less version.
 
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quote:
Until I read the OED quote I was unaware of the k-less version.
Me too.
 
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What about "Sked-yuhl" vs "Shed-yuhl"?


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Who can ever figure out how to pronounce the -ough ending? In one word the gh represents an old ch-sound which has changed to f; in another it represents an old f-sound which has vanished.

furlough (second syllable rhymes with "go") – leave of absence, especially from military duty
. . .From Dutch verlof (the laf means "permission," related to "leave"). The word came into English pronounced with an f-sound on the end, as in the Dutch, and the "-gh" of the spelling represented that sound. Later the f-sound dropped from the pronunciation, but the "gh" remained in the spelling.

trough (rhymes with "doff") – 1. a channel used to convey a liquid 2. a hollow between two wave crests in the sea 3. a point of low activity or achievement [The word is related to "tree".]
. . .The "gh" was originally pronounced in English, as in loch. Later the end-pronunciation shifted to f, but the spelling was not changed.
. . .[Do cough and laugh have a similar history? My research is unavailing: I think thy do, but I cannot pin it down for certain.]
 
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Same thought for sough and slough...


RJA
 
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Consider "man's laughter" and "manslaughter."
 
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I'm sure I've posted a link to this excellent poem previously:

http://www.ahajokes.com/eng010.html

I just wish I knew who wrote it - it's certainly been around for some decades.


Richard English
 
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colonel (pronounced "kernel") – a high military rank in the army or air force (A US colonel is just below a general. In the UK, the rank of "brigadier" was inserted between the two after WWII.)
. . .In Italian, a colonnello was the leader of a "little column" of soldiers. French borrowed this as coronel, but later shifted back to colonel, closer to the original Italian. English took both forms, the one with r and the one with l as the third letter. At first coronel was the preferred spelling, by a margin of about 5:3. But eventually colonel version won out for spelling, while the coronel version won for pronunciation, and was reduced from three syllables to two.

lieutenant – a certain military rank (in many military forces, the lowest level of commissioned officer); also, one who takes the place of another [from French, meaning "place-holding"]
. . .No one really knows why the British pronounce the first syllable as "leff". OED gives a theory very tentatively, but it is extremely speculative and not very convincing.
 
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viscount (pronounced "VY-count") – a British peer ranking below an earl and above a baron
I can't tell you why there's an s in the spelling but not in the pronunciation. I've researched it, but found nothing.

In our quote, a fellow sizes up the competition for his lady's affections.
    If she didn't think herself good enough for a mere viscount, an earl and a marquis were certainly no threat. No, it was the young, handsome clergyman who had Garret grinding his teeth.
    – Kathryn Smith, A Christmas Charade
 
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Online Etymology Dictionary shows that it comes from the Anglo-French and Old French visconte. In French, the "s" would be silent: "Vee-cont".

The French "ee" sound for "i" is often changed in English to the name of the letter. For instance, the prefix bi- sounds like "bee" in French, but "by" in English.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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