The Ecphorizer

Letters Issue 8

Issue #08 (April 1982)



Dear Editor,

Bennett Woll's pronouncing alphabet in the February edition echoes similar efforts on my part. I submit the following:

I -       Ihram (è-rom') the sacred robes of Moslem pilgrims*
          Irpe (ur'pe) a grimace*
L -     Llanero (yo-na'ro) cowboy*
          Llano (yo'nö) a vast plain*
N -    Ngaio (en-'go'yö) a small New Zealand tree*
         Ngoko (en-go'kô) a dialect used by high-born Javanese speaking
         to their inferiors*
Q -    Qatar (go'tur) World Book Encyclopaedia gives some
          authority for this pronunciation, but is is not favored
S -    Sdrucciola (zdroo'chó-lo) a three-syllable rhyme*
         Sgalag (zgo'lag) former Scottish land slaves*
V -    Vlei (flã) a temporary lake, swamp*
         Voortrekker (fôr'trek"er) pioneer*

 It will be interesting to see if anyone can come up with words for F, R, and Z.

* From Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual Obscure and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz.

Lionel A. Waxman
Tucson, AZ

Dear Editor,

Regarding the "pronouncing alphabet," I submit the following words (source for most is Webster's):

F -     fnese (a corruption of "sneeze," I suppose).
I  -     lapetus (moon of Saturn, pronounced JA' -PE-TUS)
I. -     llama (the South American animal, correctly pronounced YA'-MA)
N -    nth (extreme, as in "to the nth degree," pronounced ENTH)
Q -    qaid (that's right, no U. A Muslim judge, pronounced GAH-EED)
R -    Rwanda (African country, pronounced ERR-WN'--DA)
S -    'sblood (euphemism for archaic oath "God's blood" (ZBLOOD))
V -    von (the preposition, correctly pronounced FON)
Z -    Zhivago (as in Dr. Yuri, pronounced SHI-VA-GO)

John C. Attamack
Durham, NC

Dear Sir,

In anser tu David Koblick's proposal to revis English speling, I am simpathetik with his ams but I difer with him on sum things:He says "Since time immaterial (he obviously means since time immoral) many savants eruditer than I (Here I must correct him, out of regard for no less an English poet than John Milton, who wrote:

Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd
Fell not from heaven...

On the authority of Milton, "than" is the only word of its class that takes the accusative.) have tackled this difficult subject...

English is, as he says, a difficult language for speakers of other languages to boss (let's leave "master " and "mistress" out of this in deference to the ERA bunnies and the NOW dolls).

David may be right when he says the spelling bee is peculiar to English-speaking lands alone. I would hope to hell, however, that those canny Greeks have them, inasmuch as they adhere to their ancient orthography but have quite a number of vowel sounds pronounced just alike: the diphthongs omicron-iota, upsilon-iota, epsilon-iota, and the letter eta. Thus, the ancient Greek for "the sons" would be transliterated into "hoi huioi," which we believe in classical Greek was pronounced "hoi wheeOI." If you want to say "the sons" in modern Greek, you mast write it "hoi huioi" but pronounce it "ee EE-ee." That I submit, justifies the existence of spelling bees.

I must also take issue with him on his statement concerning the double consonants. They serve a useful purpose by alerting the reader to the fact that the preceding vowel is probably short, while the vowel preceding a single consonant which is followed by e is probably long, so while the doubling of consonants may constitute a wart on the ass of eficiency, removing them would be equivalent to pising on the whels of progres.

Murl J. Manlove
San Antonio, TX 

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