Author Topic: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...  (Read 930 times)

Offline VirginiaJim

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Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« on: September 07, 2020, 10:37:17 am »
Uranus - when I was in school we pronounced it your anus. 
Neanderthals - knee ander thals.  Now it's knee ander talls.
Positivity - never even heard of that one until recently.  Thought it wasn't a word at all and just a bunch of idiots came out with that one...guess I was wrong.  It is a word.


Any more you guys can come up with?
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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2020, 11:16:35 am »
It is still 'your anus' at my house, otherwise the joke does not make sense. 'How is toilet paper like the starship Enterprise? Both of them circle Uranus looking for Klingons.

The 'h' in many German words is not pronounced in German but often is when Anglicized and spoken by native English speakers. So Neanderthal was always pronounced 'Neandertal' in its native language but not so much here in the US. Also, sometimes the 'h' is not even present in the word 'tal' which in German means 'valley'. When used in a proper name, such as 'Nathalie', the 'h' is always silent.

In the olden' days a teaching book was called a 'prime- er'. Sophisticates today often call it a 'prim- er' but that does not make any sense to me. Also, no clue how that stuff that goes under paint is pronounced these days.... except at my house where it is still 'prime- er'.

Some people are calling 'kai- 'O'- tees' (coyotes) 'Kai- oats' these days but again, that cannot be correct as it does not rhyme with Wile- e and would thusly ruin many, many amusing cartoons.

Brian (pronounced 'Bri- Ann', emphasis on the first symbol)

P.S. this is a great thread for filling in time while smoking meat..... where 'meat' is pronounced like 'meet'.

Uranus - when I was in school we pronounced it your anus. 
Neanderthals - knee ander thals.  Now it's knee ander talls.
Positivity - never even heard of that one until recently.  Thought it wasn't a word at all and just a bunch of idiots came out with that one...guess I was wrong.  It is a word.


Any more you guys can come up with?
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Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2020, 01:07:58 pm »
I don't mind different pronunciations of various words, as long as it is still the correct word (and used with the correct tense and pluralism).  "You say potato" and such.  What irritates me is the complete improper use of grammar by people who should know better.  I read a posting this morning which prominently featured the word "irregardless."  English really is a crazy language, though.

https://www.thetoptens.com/annoying-grammar-mistakes/

Oh, I do love this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 05:20:55 pm by maxtog »
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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2020, 04:31:53 pm »
Just to throw another pronunciation iron in the fire, regional mispronunciations that make one word sound like another seem to bother me.

 Originally from Chicago, I was under the the incorrect impression that I spoke "normally" or without an accent. Moving to Texas I quickly found out that I "talked funny". I can't detect it when I speak, but if I hear a recording of myself speaking it is very noticeable. I often cringe when hearing a recording of myself. Chicagoans as a rule have a distinct whine in their long i sounds. I occasionally still visit there, and when in a grocery store I'll hear some price hawking over the p.a. system "....Ten pound bag only nine ninety nine" sounds more like "Teyn pound baahyyg only niyne niynty niyne".  When I first moved to Texas I found out that the thing on top of the house called a "roof" was not supposed to be called a "ruf", almost everyone from Chicago says ruf for roof. Bunch of dogs we are. I say all this to be clear that I understand that my speaking and writing could use improvement. That's my disclaimer and I'm sticking to it (at least until I'm corrected  ??? ).

However when regional accents make one word sound like another then something must be said. It's not just an accent, it's mispronounced words. In Texas many say "ink pen" instead of just "pen". The reason (I think) is because they typically pronounce "pen" like "pin". So instead of pronouncing "pen" correctly, the word ink is installed in front so that "ink pin" is distinguishable from "pin".  There was a Senator from Texas that constantly said "won't" when he meant "want".  i.e.: "Amircans [sic] won't a safe country to live in, and they won't it now." Listening to him being interviewed on TV, it was difficult to believe he was a University Professor before he entered politics.  Having watched some NASCAR over the weekend, I think it's safe to say that those from the southeast part of the country think that "on" is pronounced the same as "own".  i.e.: "Win [sic] he gets back own the track, you're gonna see what those new tars [sic] can do for his lap times." For some reason it only bothers me when the mispronunciation sounds like a legitimate but different word. When it sounds like a made up word or a common mispronunciation, it doesn't bother me at all.  i.e.: George Bush Jr. saying "nucular" instead of "nuclear" .  I was no fan of his, but several other presidents have mispronounced that word as well.

Offline B.D.F.

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2020, 06:07:45 pm »
Regional uses of language could take a lifetime and more to study. Funny thing but 'from a distance', they kinda' all sound the same but when a person gets the opportunity to hear two people from different parts of the same region it becomes blindingly clear that accents are actually very local. I am from southern New England and have the normal (for this area) fast, clipped speech without any 'R's 'cause ya' just don't need them and never did. Lots of southerners use our 'R's as extras so it evens out. But while I am usually tagged as being from 'Boston', Bostonian's sound funny to me. Having Chuck introduce himself is amusing 'cause there are an additional 30 or 40 'u's in the middle and it takes a while to say :-)

Sometimes ya' just need context: for example, bobbah could be the guy who cuts your hair or the thing on your fishing line that lets you know when a fish bites.... So for example "Hey, my bobbah is moving" almost certainly means the fishing kind 'cause almost all of our hair cutting bobbahs usually move.

I have really come to appreciate the particular speech patterns of southern Louisiana and some (maybe all?) areas of Tenn. as well. Very gentle, smooth and rhythmic speech

'Ruff', the thing over the house is a dead give-away for a north- central speaker, seemingly centered on Wisconsin or nearby.

I really think that at the end of the day, virtually no region of the US has 'neutral' English speakers and people who work in broadcasting and similar are schooled, sometimes for years, to beat their bad English into something we believe is neutral.

There is a member of COG, and I will not mention Terry's name, who has the most authentic Brooklyn accent you have ever heard. Fantastic to hear him tell a joke.... sometimes, even when he is not joking. He used to work but is now "Reee- toiiiiiiii- ed".

One that got me is what we call soda- some areas call it pop, and some call it soda- pop. But I just found out that there is a swath of the southern US where they call all soda 'Coke' and then ask what kind of 'Coke' you want, such as root beer. Really odd to my ears, 'I'll have a root beer Coke' just does not compute.

And of course the classic: Aunt vs. Aunt. Growing up, a family friend would always ask, whenever someone mentioned an 'Ant', which one, black or red?

Brian

Just to throw another pronunciation iron in the fire, regional mispronunciations that make one word sound like another seem to bother me.

<snip>

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Offline Pilgrim

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2020, 05:07:12 am »

How about insurance?   Northern vs southern pronunciations. 

Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2020, 05:18:18 am »
How about insurance?   Northern vs southern pronunciations.

in-SUR-ance is the only way I have heard it pronounced here in my circles.  But I suspect you are referring to the syllable emphasis of "IN-sure-ance", right?  Similar to "po-LICE" vs. "PO-lice"?  If so, that seems to be more of a Black thing than regional.  An example of a non-syllabic transformation, which is far more mysterious, being "ask" becoming "axe."

Another interesting pronunciation that seems to be less regional is the double t drop.  "kitten" becomes "ki-en."  Reminds me of particular British accents.  Yet another very wide-spread American thing is the t to d (or "lazy d"), best heard in "water" becoming "wahder."  I can't help using that, myself.  When I force myself to say it properly in conversation, I suddenly sound a little British.
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Offline Boomer

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2020, 07:53:07 am »
I suppose it is not your fault that you all speak strangely, but you really should be trying much harder to speak the Queens English correctly.  :rotflmao:

For me they are pronounced Yew-rain-us, Re-tie-erred, In-sure-an-sss, Po-lee-sss, War-ter, Bri-nn (silent a), and Knee-ander-taal (it's a valley east of D├╝sseldorf, Germany) Ant vs Aunt is a north vs south England thing, In the north they say Gl-ass where as the south say Glaa-sss, ba-th vs baa-th, short a vs long aa, Ant vs Aaant.  ::)

Much of the US accent comes from Dutch, German and Scandinavian dialects. If you'd ever heard someone from Haarlem in the Netherlands speaking English, it's so very close to "middle" American it's uncanny. There are however lots of other influences from the various regional dialects of UK English to Chinese to various African languages, Spanish, French, Slavic languages and every other language on the planet.  ;D
In my experience the American accents are much more homogeneous than here. Yes there are variations, and some are pretty extreme, but they happen over MUCH greater distances. The same applies to the pronunciation of words across dialects.


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Offline Conrad

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2020, 08:53:12 am »
snip...

Uranus - when I was in school we pronounced it your anus. 


It is still 'your anus' at my house, otherwise the joke does not make sense. 'How is toilet paper like the starship Enterprise? Both of them circle Uranus looking for Klingons.


And how else are we going to get a laugh out of this?

https://www.uranusmissouri.com/

Yep, your anus Missouri!

https://www.uranusmissouri.com/attractions/escape-uranus/
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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2020, 10:40:40 am »
Agreed- you (English people) seem to have much more severe as well as much shorter distances between your various accents. That said, to my American ear there is usually only 'regular Limey' and 'odd Limey'. :-)  There have been a very few English people speak just 'unusually' enough to catch my attention, one is the actress Jodie Whittaker who draws out or flattens certain sounds in a very distinctive way.

I had two English professors who seemed like they spoke 'regular English English' but if I happen to have them back- to- back, I could easily tell two different accents. The one who had the more unusual accent also used unusual (to me) terms, such as "2 upon pi" and so forth. Not wrong or even hard to follow, just terms that no American or even 'Regular English' people used.

One of the things that has impressed me greatly regarding some folks from the British Isles has been that some can produce an uncanny neutral American accent. Damien Lewis (English) and Laura Fraser (Scottish) are both impossible to identify as anything other than having a perfect American accent. There are actually quite a few of those folks. Now I understand they have dialect coaches and so forth but still, admirable and impressive diction.

What makes the English (American) - English (England) conversion tough is more of the social differences than the actual language. Things such as 'spit the dummy' just make no sense until explained to an American because the word 'dummy' means something entirely different. Some very common words are very different- I think the English use of the word 'mean' trips up most Americans because we simply do not use that word to mean 'cheap'.

The only native English speaker I found I simply could not converse with was an older woman from Scotland. No matter how slowly she spoke, I could not follow enough of her words to make sense of what she was saying- this was a long time ago, and she seemed to understand me fine.

Back to the point of this thread: I had a great- uncle who used terms that are no longer used but seem to be common in England. Terms like 'hire a car' meaning to rent a car, are just not used and probably not understood by Americans today. He was ancient when I was born and definitely used the language differently due to the age he grew up in, which makes me think that at least in some ways American English and British English have moved further apart a lot more recently than the late 1700's. On the other side of the coin, some decidedly English words are making their way into American English due to the 'Net: 'whilst' is not even a word in American English though it is more and more commonly used by Americans.

Finally, there are distinct ways our two cultures use the language- no American would ever say 'Take him to hospital' or 'When I was at university'; we would always use 'the' or 'a' hospital and university.

Brian (when my English grandmother found out my name, she asked my mother if that name was "Irish" enough for her.... she was not pleased :-)  )


<snip>

In my experience the American accents are much more homogeneous than here. Yes there are variations, and some are pretty extreme, but they happen over MUCH greater distances. The same applies to the pronunciation of words across dialects.
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Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2020, 03:50:40 pm »
I suppose it is not your fault that you all speak strangely, but you really should be trying much harder to speak the Queens English correctly.  :rotflmao:

Nah, we ain't got no Queen, so we is gonna speak 'merican, not British!!  ;)

The funniest thing I ever read was that the modern, upper-class British accent was pretty much contrived and that the accent used to sound more like mid-west American.  I wish I could scrounge up that article now...

The other funny thing is that Americans sound American when singing or talking.  Yet most British singers also sound American when singing (actual singing, not talk-singing or rapping or such).
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Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2020, 03:56:17 pm »
The only native English speaker I found I simply could not converse with was an older woman from Scotland. No matter how slowly she spoke, I could not follow enough of her words to make sense of what she was saying- this was a long time ago, and she seemed to understand me fine.

I have to admit there was some movie or Netflix thing I was watching a few years ago, I can't recall what it was, that contained all Irish actors and try as I might, I simply could not understand it.  I actually had to turn on sub-titles.  It was, as you pointed out, partially about the idioms chosen that were completely unfamiliar to me, but it also just very difficult to follow.  The subtitles didn't help much with the idioms- for that, I would have needed a full "translation."  But, otherwise, I could catch enough with the subtitles to mostly follow the story.  It was painful, however.
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Offline gPink

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2020, 05:55:43 pm »
I have to admit there was some movie or Netflix thing I was watching a few years ago, I can't recall what it was, that contained all Irish actors and try as I might, I simply could not understand it.  I actually had to turn on sub-titles.  It was, as you pointed out, partially about the idioms chosen that were completely unfamiliar to me, but it also just very difficult to follow.  The subtitles didn't help much with the idioms- for that, I would have needed a full "translation."  But, otherwise, I could catch enough with the subtitles to mostly follow the story.  It was painful, however.
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Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2020, 06:02:18 pm »
'Snatch'

No, not that.  It was something about the IRA.  My memory is always fuzzy, but it was also a mediocre film, so I remember it even less.
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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2020, 06:20:23 pm »
ON topic, sorta'.

I worked for a German company and found that native German speakers universally pronounced the word 'iron' as 'I- ron' rather than 'I- urn' as it is, probably incorrectly, pronounced. Sure is spelled that way. Makes me wonder if we native English speakers ever pronounced it 'I- ron'?

There was a German national visiting the US arm of the co. and he was watching one of the engineers quite carefully for a few days, on and off. Then one day the German walked up to the engineer and said in extremely slow and precise English: "Do you speak English?". Which was kinda' funny 'cause that engineer was originally from Texas so...... no, he did not speak English so much.

 :yikes: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:

As the story goes, when Quentin Tarantino was casting Inglourious Basterds, he wanted to cast Diane Kruger but wanted to have a native German speaker talk with her to make sure she could really speak fluent German. That is kinda' funny 'cause Diane Kruger was born and raised in Germany- her American English is virtually perfect. When in Germany, during a casual conversation a German ask me if I knew of the German actor Rutger Hauer. I responded yes, of course, but he is not German, he is Dutch. Some Germans did not believe it because he spoke German with no Dutch (or any other) accent. I said that he also spoke English, colloquial English, with no accent either, making him fluent and accent-less in at least three languages. He had a very slight accent in English when he was young but by middle age had worked his way through it.

Brian
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Offline gPink

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2020, 06:41:29 pm »
Aluminum and aluminium
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Offline maxtog

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2020, 07:13:50 pm »
What irritates me is the complete improper use of grammar by people who should know better.

And just now marks the THIRD time in four days I have heard a smart person misuse the word "there's" in a video.  This time, a PhD that I greatly admire said "What I do is I say what I think; and there's consequences to that."  <shutter>  There ARE consequences to that, it makes me cringe!
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Offline Boomer

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2020, 04:00:29 am »
The funniest thing I ever read was that the modern, upper-class British accent was pretty much contrived and that the accent used to sound more like mid-west American.  I wish I could scrounge up that article now...

The other funny thing is that Americans sound American when singing or talking.  Yet most British singers also sound American when singing (actual singing, not talk-singing or rapping or such).

The article you may be referring to is
http://www.britishaccent.co.uk/news/2013/06/how-did-the-british-accent-evolve/
although that article seems to completely ignore the fact that the Celts & Gauls were already living in England way before the Jutes, Angles & Saxons came here and completely ignores the effects that the Norman invasion had with it's imposition of the French language for up to 300 years and the Viking invasions that considerably changed the northern accents in the UK. Yes, it's very likely that the UK and USA had similar accents in the 1700s but both have shifted substantially since then.

"Posh English" is what is spoken by the Queen, Boris Johnson, Hugh Grant, etc. so that is probably what you refer to as "upper-class". It is one of 2 accents in the UK that are not regional.

The other non-regional, that I refer to as middle English, is officially known as RP or Received Pronunciation (sometimes also referred to as BBC English) and is pronounced according to the phonetics shown in British English Dictionaries. I mostly speak RP with hints of Essex and many other accents mixed in, including accents from other languages. This is due to moving every few years from birth up to age 25 when I moved to Essex.
Very few people in the UK speak RP. Most have regional accents based on where they were born and/or where they now live.
I also speak fluent French with a middle French accent with hints of Brussels and Provence, German with a "nowhere" accent, Dutch (mostly ABN with a hint of Vlaams), and Swedish with a Halland (south-west Sweden) accent.

When Brits sing we often sound American due to being influenced by US music, especially Blues & Rock'n Roll.
But there are also many that don't such as Hawkwind, Peter Gabriel (with Genesis & solo), Fish (with Marillion & solo), Kate Bush, Blur, Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc.
Many of those who sing with British accents never make it in the US, as y'all prefer singers that sound like y'all.  ;D
George "Boomer" Garratt
Wickford, UK


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Offline George R. Young

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Re: Words where the pronunciation has changed over the years...
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2020, 07:29:53 am »
Aluminum and aluminium
The name of the element is alumium. I believe that the usage of aluminum came from ALCOA, the Aluminum Company of America). The brand name overcame the element's correct name, like Frigidare (refrigerator), Xerox (photocopier) and Kleenex (tissue).

One of my university profs insisted that if we used aluminum, we should also use germanum, strontum, etc.
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