Friday July 20, 2007

No Longer Ictic?

After discussing reading pronunciations in academic talks just a few days ago, I encountered a perfect example today in a talk at a conference.  All through the talk, the speaker used the pronunciation  [di.ˈɪk.tɪk] (roughly dee-IK-tik) for the word deictic.  The two standard pronunciations of deictic are  [ˈdaɪk.tɪk] (DIKE-tik) and the less common [ˈdeɪk.tɪk] (DAKE-tik), but you can hardly be expected to figure that out from the spelling.  I remember being surprised the first time I heard it spoken aloud—I had been pronouncing it [deɪ.ˈɪk.tɪk] in my head.  Apparently today's speaker came to a similar conclusion, although I can't rule out the possibility that she's a faithful reader of this blog and decided to attempt to pull off the prank I proposed in my earlier post.  If that's the case, then I salute you!

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The reading pronunciation that makes me wince is the past of "bid/forbid" - "bade/forbade." I'm from a dialect region where both these words are daily, functional words, and they rhyme with plain old "bad," NOT "obeyed."

Also, since this is Ling in SF, I recall an episode of ST:TNG (Hollow Pursuits) where Data mispronounces "metathesis." He gives it the perfectly logical, but incorrect, stress pattern of METaTHESis (sorry, I can't be bothered to figure out how to render IPA in comments). Just another reason the episode writer should be on hand for filming, in a perfect world.

Posted by: David at Jul 22, 2007 9:36:37 AM

Lucky for me, the first I came across the word was in a lecture by Charles J Filmore, who knew a thing or two about the subject. He used the latter of your two orthodox pronunciations.

Posted by: zmjezhd at Jul 22, 2007 6:13:10 PM

I'm from a dialect region where both these words are daily, functional words
Also where people are quite bossy, by the sounds of things.

Posted by: Nakku at Jul 27, 2007 4:46:48 AM

I have been told several times to pronounce this word as [ˈdaɪk.tɪk] and steadfastly refuse. I now reliably say [ˈdeɪk.tɪk] but used to say [deɪ.ˈɪk.tɪk] with three syllables until I got tired of being constantly corrected. I have no idea where the pronunciation with the /aɪ/ comes from, but it certainly doesn’t make much sense to me from either spelling or etymology.

Then again, I prefer Classical Greek pronunciations over Modern ones. Modern Greek speech collapses too many phonemes into [i] for my comfort.

Posted by: at Aug 2, 2007 12:45:42 PM