Language fleeting thoughts

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Eebster the Great
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Jun 20, 2019 3:02 am UTC

doogly wrote:
gd1 wrote:I've gotta take Lalique, brush Matisse, Van Gogh ta bed.

That's not how you pronounce Van Gogh.

That's how the name is usually pronounced in the U.S.

Derek
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Derek » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:10 am UTC

pogrmman wrote:I'm curious about what people would call a specific kind of waterway. Behind my house, in the bottom of a steep valley maybe 60' deep with some short cliffs on both sides there's a little waterway that only flows after it rains. A recent thunderstorm that dropped under .75" pushed it to between 1 and 2 feet deep and over 9 feet wide (estimated flow from Manning's equation 15-20 cfs, although the peak flow could've been quite a bit higher). It's not normally much over 3 feet or so deep after big rains, but I've seen it deeper than 7 feet after very large storm (it was flowing over a road at least that high above the bed of the creek). The bed is clear of vegetation and leaf litter and consists of gravel and small rocks up to a couple feet wide in some spots and exposed bedrock in others. It's not a named water course, probably because it doesn't flow often enough. It's also very likely that it loses much of its water to the aquifer, seeing as we're in the recharge zone and there are decent sized cracks in the bedrock it flows over. Every few years, it sometimes flows for a week or more continuously, but that's only happened a few times since I've lived here.

Spoiler:
I personally call it a creek, but I imagine others might call it a gulch or a draw or an arroyo (though we're a bit far east for that). I guess wash would be a good term for it, but it's presence in a nearly canyon-like valley seems wrong for that IMO. Plus, it's in a woodland area.

I would call that a dry creek.

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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby gd1 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:03 pm UTC

25 mph in a residential area... how much in a ...Presidential area?
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby solune » Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:46 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:I have never respected any meaningful distinctions between words like "creek," "brook," "rivulet," or "stream." They're all just little rivers. While there's no water in them, they're little dry rivers.


Non-native speaker here. I've only heard rivulet used to describe tears or rain on a window, so I would only use it to describe a very small, laminar flow of water (less than 1cm large). To me, creek evokes its original French meaning of a bay, so when I hear it I imagine a river which is just large enough to have meanders that look like a coastline (i.e. a turning radius of 10 to 50 meters). For streams, the important characteristic is that it foams or bubbles, so it's both a constraint on the size (both large and small rivers tend to have laminar flow but not intermediate rivers) and on the slope.

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Eebster the Great
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:56 pm UTC

Why is "niche" commonly pronounced /nɪtʃ/ in America? This is the way I say the word, and although it is losing ground, most sources online say this is still the most common pronunciation in the U.S., even though /ni:ʃ/ has beaten it out in most other places. Moreover, /nɪtʃ/ is apparently the older pronunciation in English by centuries. But it comes from French, and surely the French word would have been pronounced closer to /ni:ʃ/.

The shift toward /ni:ʃ/ makes sense as a form of correction or hypercorrection to the French pronunciaiton, but why was it not pronounced this way in the first place? There are other French loanwords that get pronounced differently in America than they do in France (e.g. clique) and some that get pronounced differently in England than in France (e.g. herb), but usually the French pronunciation is the older one. In this case, it seems like the French pronunciation was almost immediately rejected, and then it became resurrected around a century ago, only gaining the dominant position in some parts of the world in the last few decades.

I started wondering about this because of the standard accusation that Americans had infected England with their poor pronunciations, and "niche" was given as a (historically false) example.

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Pfhorrest
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:59 am UTC

I would expect an English speaker with no knowledge of the word's history to pronounce "niche" phonetically as "nitch" (I can't be bothered with IPA right now). I remember when I first saw that word in a school ecology class and thought it was pronounced that way, until my (British-accented) teacher corrected me to the "neesh" pronunciation. So it doesn't really surprise me that "nitch" would be the historically more common pronunciation in English, though the counterexamples you give me other words sticking closer to their French pronunciation from earlier on makes me wonder what it is about this word that would make it get sounded-out phonetically by English speakers who didn't know better, while those other words didn't.
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ThirdParty
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby ThirdParty » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:44 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Moreover, /nɪtʃ/ is apparently the older pronunciation in English by centuries. But it comes from French, and surely the French word would have been pronounced closer to /ni:ʃ/. The shift toward /ni:ʃ/ makes sense as a form of correction or hypercorrection to the French pronunciation, but why was it not pronounced this way in the first place?
Actually, in the early seventeenth century when "niche" was borrowed into English, the vowel could easily have been pronounced closer to an [ɪ] than an [i:]. I think the Québécois French accent is probably closer to an Early Modern French accent than the Metropolitan French accent is, and in Québécois French /i/ is pronounced [ɪ] when it occurs in a closed syllable. English borrowed the word "risk" around the same time as "niche", and as far as I know has always pronounced it with an /ɪ/.

On the other hand, I agree that the consonant would have been pronounced /ʃ/ even in Early Modern French. So it's a little puzzling that it would have turned into /tʃ/ when borrowed into English. It's not totally unprecedented, though; English borrowed "poach" only a little earlier than "niche"--long after French started pronouncing "ch" as /ʃ/ rather than /tʃ/--and yet pronounces it with a /tʃ/.

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Eebster the Great
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:42 am UTC

ThirdParty wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:Moreover, /nɪtʃ/ is apparently the older pronunciation in English by centuries. But it comes from French, and surely the French word would have been pronounced closer to /ni:ʃ/. The shift toward /ni:ʃ/ makes sense as a form of correction or hypercorrection to the French pronunciation, but why was it not pronounced this way in the first place?
Actually, in the early seventeenth century when "niche" was borrowed into English, the vowel could easily have been pronounced closer to an [ɪ] than an [i:]. I think the Québécois French accent is probably closer to an Early Modern French accent than the Metropolitan French accent is, and in Québécois French /i/ is pronounced [ɪ] when it occurs in a closed syllable. English borrowed the word "risk" around the same time as "niche", and as far as I know has always pronounced it with an /ɪ/.

On the other hand, I agree that the consonant would have been pronounced /ʃ/ even in Early Modern French. So it's a little puzzling that it would have turned into /tʃ/ when borrowed into English. It's not totally unprecedented, though; English borrowed "poach" only a little earlier than "niche"--long after French started pronouncing "ch" as /ʃ/ rather than /tʃ/--and yet pronounces it with a /tʃ/.

That's very interesting. I didn't know the vowel had shifted in French. "Risque" was actually borrowed even later than "niche."

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ThirdParty
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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby ThirdParty » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:02 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:That's very interesting. I didn't know the vowel had shifted in French. "Risque" was actually borrowed even later than "niche."
It's not that the vowel shifted, exactly. It's always been /i/. It's just that /i/ isn't pronounced as tensely in languages that don't have an /ɪ/ sound. I once heard one of my high school Spanish teachers say, in English, "take out a shit of paper" and have no idea why the class had started laughing.

I'd expect to find /ɪ/ in borrowings as early as "William" and as late as "Guillotine". Though it's hard to tell which ones started out as /ɪ/ and which ones morphed into it later due to influence from the spelling; I don't know a good source for historical pronunciations.

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Re: Language fleeting thoughts

Postby Angua » Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:57 pm UTC

Anyone know Sindarin? Trying to write 'This is Rowan's room' for a door sign (Sindarin to match 'speak friend and enter') I can do the individual words but no idea how to do the grammar.
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