User talk:Angr

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Irish sound changes[edit]

Would you happen to know anything about sound changes in the history of Irish? Both from Celtic to Old Irish, and from there to modern Irish. —CodeCat 21:12, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I know a fair amount about them, and what I don't know I can look up! —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:13, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I would like to know more, in particular something I could add to a Wikipedia article maybe. It's currently lacking in that respect. —CodeCat 21:14, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Okay. This book has a lot of info if you have access to a library that carries it. So does Stair na Gaeilge: In Omor do Phadraig O'Fiannachta, but it's written in Irish. Any specific questions? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:20, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately I don't have access to that. The w:Old Irish article has quite a lot of information about the developments leading up to Old Irish, but there is nothing about what happened in the transition to Middle and Modern Irish. The reason I am personally curious is that it might give insight into a lot of the idiosyncrasies of Irish spelling. For example why does "eo" now signify a long o? And there's also the apparent change e > a before a broad consonant which is very visible. These things might be useful to document on Wikipedia, and I think they would be a huge help for someone trying to get a deeper understanding of why Irish is written the way it is. —CodeCat 21:44, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, that's all stuff I vaguely intended to get around to putting at Wikipedia someday, but real life intervened. I have some detailed stuff on Irish orthography on some user subpages of mine at Wikipedia (you can find the links at w:User:Angr), but I was so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that I never finished them and put them into mainspace. Also, they're not terribly diachronic, though since they're about the spelling-to-sound rules they are by necessity at least a little diachronic.
There are a few words where eo is short (deoch, eochair, seo), and the long sound used to be spelled , but already Dinneen (i.e. a few decades before the spelling reform of the '50s) decided that since long outnumbered short eo 99 to 1, they'd go ahead and drop the fada and just allow the few words in which it's short to be exceptions. It comes from the Old Irish long diphthong /eːu̯/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:57, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
That's an orthographic change as much as a phonetic one.
(Hereafter I expect to embarrass myself horribly) As I understand it, Old Irish had three qualities of vowel: broad, slender and neutral. "e" was neutral, and so you had to look to the vowel on the other side of the consonant group to figure out whether the consonants were velarised or palatalised. (Were there neutral quality consonants as well?)
As well, you had the complication that Old Irish was written in Latin script, and Latin orthography was bent to fit. Which is why Old Irish showed lenited "c" and "t" with following "h" (because Latin had "ch" and "th" ready), lenited "f" and "s" by symbolically erasing them ("ḟ" and "ṡ" are marked with the punctus delens, the "mark of deletion". Or, for "ḟ", it was left out entirely), and the rest were unmarked except, unreliably, in lacking marked gemination. Middle Irish is the period where a new orthography was evolving, combined with massive changes and simplifications in the language.
We can tell a lot about the pronunciation not only from the descendant languages, but from borrowings into, eg., Old Norse (eg: Old Irish Eithne → Old Norse Eðna), and spellings of foreign names in the contemporary records (Amlaíb for Óláfr). --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 22:10, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Old Irish had two qualities of consonant: broad and slender, also called plain and palatalized. Thurneysen thought there were also u-colored consonants, but people don't believe that anymore. There aren't different qualities of vowel phonologically speaking (nor are there in Modern Irish), but because the vowel letters are used to indicate consonant quality, people informally talk about "broad vowels" and "slender vowels" to mean "vowel letters indicating broad consonants" and "vowel letters indicating slender consonants". Everything else you said above seems to be right. I've actually just posted Appendix:Old Irish pronunciation for anyone who's interested. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:20, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Another book with information about the development from Old Irish to Modern Irish is Irish Dialects Past and Present by Thomas F. O'Rahilly, though it's from 1932 and thus somewhat dated in some respects. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:36, 5 August 2014 (UTC)


How do consonants like "s" and "z" get rhotacised? Like, for instance, what happened in non-East Germanic languages to Proto-Germanic *z.

I ask because I can't fathom how such a sound change could occur, nevermind how that new "r" phoneme could then merge with the separately existing "r" phoneme. If the sound was "l" or "n" or something, I could better justify that in my mind. But "z"? That seems ridiculous!

I mean, in Runic Norse, the symbol for the "z~r" sound was indicated by flipping the old *Algiz rune upside down, so they clearly realised that the new sound was different enough from the old sound to warrant that, and they also didn't seem to confuse it with their *Raiðō rune, so the sound was clearly distinct. Yet it later merged for some reason in the descendant languages. Tharthan (talk) 20:24, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

If it's any consolation, the same sound change happened in Latin too, which is why the genitives of mus and genus are muris and generis. "Why" is usually an unanswerable question in historical linguistics, but if you make a /z/ sound and then move your tongue just ever so slightly away from your alveolar ridge, you'll find yourself making something not too far away from /ɹ/. Acoustically, they're very different, but articulatorily, they're actually fairly close to each other. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:31, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. But that doesn't explain why that new medial and final "z~r" sound (that was still separate enough from "r" for people to notice) would end up merging with "r". That seems like a bit of a chain shift; an unnatural one at that. Tharthan (talk) 01:34, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

pían and pén[edit]

I thought that Old Irish had already undergone the é > ía change, alongside ó > úa? —CodeCat 14:18, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, it did, but according to the Dictionary of the Irish Language, the only nominative singular attested for this word before Middle Irish is pén (though the plural píana is attested in the Milan glosses). Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't just merge sga and mga into a single language here at Wiktionary, since the border between them is so fluid. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 14:28, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Explanatory style[edit]

Review Help:Writing definitions. It's possible they misworded it but, as is, they simply said most translations are incomplete and hastily done; the fragmentary style is optional; and (given that it's frankly silly to have separate styles or to mandate that one always be fragmentary and poorly done) there's no reason to revert to the worse optional format.

Now, that said, if those definitions are somehow wrong or misleading (shouldn't be—they're linked through and punctuated so that people know we're not talking about a man or thing named "River"), by all means improve them. — LlywelynII 22:36, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Angr is correct: English entries generally use the capital-letter + full-stop format for definitions ("A river."). Non-English entries generally do not have definitions, they have glosses/translations, and those use simple links ("river"). - -sche (discuss) 22:44, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
Right. "River" isn't a definition, it's a gloss, and it definitely isn't a sentence and so shouldn't be punctuated like one. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:15, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Alt form: abhuinn[edit]

Since you seem like someone to ask, though: "Avon" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. has "Gaelic abhuinn" where abhainn is clearly meant. Is it just a conjugated form? or an older variant we should list and link? or an old misspelling that we shouldn't bother drawing any attention to? — LlywelynII 22:38, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

I'll put money on EB9 meaning Scottish Gaelic wherever it says simply "Gaelic". And abhuinn is found in the wild as a Gàidhlig variant of abhainn. Dwelly notes it as a variant of abhainn. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 00:04, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, already in early Middle Irish the dative/accusative singular form fluctuated between abainn/abaind and abuinn/abuind. They'd be pronounced the same anyway. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:19, 27 August 2014 (UTC)


Whilst I am well aware that "influenced terms" is not standard Wiktionary protocol, I have to object to having "pen" be included under "derived terms". Having it under that header implies that its use in that sense is derived from penitentiary. That has been disproven, so why have it included under such a header at all?

Honestly, wouldn't you say it would be fairer to put something next to the term indicating that its continued use in that sense is merely due to influence from "penitentiary" instead (that is, if you believe it should be included on the page at all)? Tharthan (talk) 17:08, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Is it disproven? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:15, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment: this seems like a job for "Related terms". No? - -sche (discuss) 23:02, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with -sche. That's probably the best option here. What do you think, Angr? Tharthan (talk) 23:31, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
I can live with Related terms, but the discussion still belongs at the etymology of pen. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 01:45, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
It already is there, isn't it? Or what more needs to be added to pen? - -sche (discuss) 03:11, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
If it's already there, that's fine. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 09:18, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
All right then. I'll go fix up the pages now. Actually, I've just noticed, by the way, that pent is noted as being "probably archaic". However, I've seen pent up used literally (as opposed to pent-up) like in "pent up calves" or the like. On the other hand, I don't believe I've ever seen "penned" (though I don't doubt its existence or anything. I bet if I checked the page for "penned" there'd be a dozen citations). Should I start a discussion in the Tea Room regarding "pent" being archaic or not in its literal sense, or...? Tharthan (talk) 15:06, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
The use of pent with in and up may be diminishing, but it is readily understood and is not rare. I don't think it worth the label "archaic", nor the discussion worth the Tea Room. DCDuring TALK 15:43, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
All right. I'll remove the note claiming that it is archaic, then. Actually, wait... diminishing? How so? Tharthan (talk) 15:53, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
"Diminishing" = declining over time. But it still occurs. DCDuring TALK 17:18, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
I know what diminishing means. I was simply asking what brings you to the conclusion that its use is diminishing. Tharthan (talk) 18:05, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
In this ngram, I scaled "pent up", "pent in", "pent" and "penned in" so that they were all at the same height in 1880, so that we could look at the rates by which they've become less or more common over time relative to each other, without regard to the fact that some are in absolute terms more common than others. All of them have become a bit less common over time; "pent up" and "pent in" have lost more ground relative to their starting points than "pent", and "pent" has lost more ground than "penned in". Neither "pent up" not "pent in" merits {{lb|en|uncommon}} or {{lb|en|archaic}} tags, IMO. The adjective "pent", on the other hand, might. - -sche (discuss) 19:32, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Now hold on a moment, -sche. I'm assuming that this is anent attested usage? Whilst that's a fair point that you're making, you must keep in mind that there may well be plenty of unwrit farmers still saying "pent in" or "pent up" on a daily basis. The fact that the term still occurs seems to be suggestive of that, methinks. Not that any of what I've just said is useful at all to the Project, but it's just a side-note. I'd reckon that "pent" is probably used plenty by farmers. That is... unless some of the data that you used in that n-gram contained some surveying of sorts of farmers? Tharthan (talk) 23:01, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
For the US there is the Dictionary of American Regional English which did surveys. Though we might define language as principally what is spoken, if we seek multiple attestations that are conveniently available and verifiable (so as to prevent bad consequences of wishful thinking, sabotage, and vandalism, we necessarily end up relying on on-line texts with minimal coverage of regional variations of spoken English and over-representation of Web, literary, and scholarly Englishes. BNC has a goodly sample of spoken English, but does not give us much ability to look at trends over long periods of time.
In any event, do you have any evidence that the bias against spoken English has changed over time? DCDuring TALK 00:46, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
If I'm understanding you correctly, then no. I'm merely suggesting the possibility that the term may well still be often used by people in the field of farming in some places. It's always good to keep an open mind about that type of possibility, methinks, in case another study is done at some point that suggests that such is the case. Tharthan (talk) 11:03, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Something to look out for[edit]

Your edit to sword (diff) caused a module error because it left the language code out of a Korean translation that was preceded by another translation followed by "(Hanja:", with no comma in between. I'm assuming this is due to a bug in xte. It would be a good idea to check for module errors so you can fix such problems right away. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:14, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

If it's a bug with xte, we should ping User:Kephir, right? - -sche (discuss) 03:26, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
It's not a bug with xte; I did that part manually and simply forgot to put "ko" as the first parameter. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 06:22, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Chuck Entz, -sche: Indeed, xte converts that Korean line to
* Korean: {{t-check|ko|검|tr=Hanja: [[劍#Korean|劍]]|sc=Kore}}, {{t+|ko|칼|sc=Kore}}
as expected (even if this is incorrect). Remember, this is a manually operated tool. Before you point at the software, please check it at WT:Sandbox. (You can do it straight from the edit window.) I believe xte handles markup quite reliably now. In particular, the language code is always put in place. Keφr 06:31, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

UK pronunciation[edit]

Hi Angr. Why are you altering the IPA symbols used in entries? E.g. I notice you're changing /əː/ for the more old-fashioned /ɜː/ and replacing ‘UK’ with ‘RP’. I don't mind if you want to add a new line for Received Pronunciation, but you shouldn't delete existing UK pronunciations. They are consistent with the guide at IPA chart for English and with the Oxford/OED and British Library transcriptions. Ƿidsiþ 13:28, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Appendix:English pronunciation uses /ɜː/, which isn't "old-fashioned" at all; it's the usual symbol. (A few minimalist dictionaries like to reduce the number of symbols by using /əː/ for the NURSE vowel, but for the most part they also do things like use /i/ for KIT, /e/ for DRESS, /u/ for FOOT, and so on, none of which Wiktionary does.) And "UK" is silly because there isn't a single accent for the UK, which covers not only all of England, but Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland as well. "(UK) /ˈpɜːmɪt/" is inaccurate since in Scotland, for example, it's /ˈpɛrmɪt/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 13:47, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Well you're right about ‘UK’, but you're not right about the vowel thing. As I said, the OED (and the rest of Oxford Dicitonaries) as well as the British Library in their major survey of UK accents all use the long schwa for this sound (because it's more accurate – the sound used, nowadays, really is much closer to [əː]). None of them use the simplifications you're talking about. The reason we started using ‘UK’, which admittedly is vague, is precisely that traditional Received Pronunciation is a very old-fashioned accent in Britain now; most newsreaders don't even use it and even the Queen's vowel sounds have changed a lot. That is why so many pronunciation authorities in the UK have switched to different symbols for certain vowels (the main two being CAT /a/ and NURSE). I don't really care whether it's called ‘modern RP’ or whatever, but I do care that perfectly good transcriptions are being deleted. We actually discussed this at length on the Beer Parlour some months ago (though no consensus was really reached, so both systems are currently being used depending on the editor). Ƿidsiþ 14:40, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
As I recall, what we discussed without consensus being reached (typically for this place) was whether to use /a/ or /æ/ for the TRAP vowel; I don't recall ever discussing how to transcribe the NURSE vowel before. And Oxford is not the only arbiter on the transliteration of RP (neo-RP, Standard Southern British or whatever you want to call it); plenty of other contemporary authorities do use /ɜː/. It's not helpful at all to think of /əː/ and /ɜː/ as two distinct sounds, one of which has been removed; rather, they're two different methods of transcribing one and the same sound. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:17, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. And if an editor has already used one of them in a transcription, it seems to me to be impolite to remove it and replace it with the other one. Ƿidsiþ 17:32, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
As I said, Appendix:English pronunciation uses /ɜː/, not /əː/, so it's a matter of being consistent across entries. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 19:23, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Well hang on. Appendix:English pronunciation used to use /əː/, until -sche removed it in an edit in January this year. That page is not based on any kind of consensus, it's just the whims of various editors. It does not even match the charts given at Wikipedia. Given that this is still a live issue it seems to me to be entirely against the spirit of the project to overwrite other people's work in existing pages. Ƿidsiþ 06:47, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
It had /əː/ for less than a month, and you were the one who changed /ɜː/ to /əː/ in the first place, in December 2013. Before that, as far as I can tell, it always had /ɜː/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:27, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
That's true, although I was hardly acting unilaterally – it was the result of long conversations in various forums here. And I've given my sources, which are really the most authoritative you can get in Britain. Anyway, whatever, I've argued this endlessly with people (mostly people who don't even speak British English) who seem only to want to keep up an old system because they're used to seeing it. Apologies for the bitter tone! I'll stop working on Pronunciations and leave you to it. Ƿidsiþ 14:43, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
The Cambridge Dictionary, the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, and the Collins Dictionary all use /ɜː/; I don't see that they're any less authoritative than Oxford and the British Library. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:46, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

bold in North American English[edit]

Please do not remove alternate /-l̩/ pronunciations for words otherwise pronounced with any of /-ʌl -oʊl -ʊl/ involving a dark L /ɫ/. This is a phonetic merger in much of North American English (including General American) that has especially taken root in the Millennial Generation (people born since about 1980). These particular vowels lose their distinction and become pronounced identically to /-l̩/, whose real articulation is more like [ɤˡ~ɤɫ]. The merger produces new homophones like bowl-bull, coal-cull, colt-cult, dole-dull, foal-full, goal-gull, hole-hull, knoll-null, mole-mull, pole-poll-pull. And I know that in at least some accents (like my own), it produces new splits, like color /ˈkʌlɚ/ with clear L vs. culler /ˈkl̩ɚ/ with dark L, because dark L triggers the merger while clear L does not. Because of all this, when I was growing up, I was not always sure which dictionary vowel was prescribed to words like bull (/bʌl/?), full (/fʌl/?), pull (/pʌl/?) or wolf (/woʊlf/?), and have heard variations of these in other people's enunciated hypercorrections as well. - Gilgamesh (talk) 04:12, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Even if there are people who merge bowl with bull, etc. (a claim I would like to see a published source for), bull isn't pronounced /bl̩/, since /l/ is syllabic only in unstressed syllables in English. It's pronounced /bʊl/, with the same vowel as foot or book. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 12:59, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
/l̩/ as an unstressed syllable resulted from the merging of /əl ᵻl ɵl ᵿl/. This newer merger in North America causes /ɫ̩ ʌɫ oʊɫ ʊɫ/ to all become the same sound, just as /ɝː ɚ/ already merged. seminal /ˈsɛmᵻnl̩/ and Seminole /ˈsɛmᵻnoʊl/ are already homophones /ˈsɛmᵻnl̩/, [ˈsɛmᵻnɤˡ]. I'm 34, and my older siblings and I have always had this merger. My Baby Boomer mother also had the merger. My Silent Generation father sporadically has the merger. The Millennial Generation speaking General American on U.S. television virtually all have the merger. Pronunciations like [boʊɫ] and [bʊɫ] with a fully-articulated vowel either sound elderly, old-fashioned or hyper-enunciated (assuming the vowel being enunciated even matches the dictionary vowel at all). I honestly wish I had more academic references for this, because this merger is so pervasive in modern speech; the dictionary pronunciations are decades obsolete and this badly needs academic attention. The best solid reference I can think of is a usage example, in a comedy bit from a certain popular television show, where someone thinks of the word "monocle" and ponders that "mono-" means "one" and that "-cle" (pronounced identically to "cole") is a kind of slaw (cole slaw). There came a point where I finally told myself, "Who says [boʊɫ]? Does anyone under 70 say this?" And the answer is, in General American, of course not—it's always /bl̩/, [bɤˡ], just like howl is now always /hæl/, [hæɤˡ] and cup is now always /kəp/, [kʰəp], and fang is now always /feɪŋ/, and twenty is now always /ˈtwʊni/, [ˈtʍɤɾ̃i]. - Gilgamesh (talk) 08:44, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm only 46, and I don't have any of those pronunciations except possibly [kʰəp]; twenty for me has /ʌ/ but not /ʊ/. But bowl has the same vowel as boat (maybe less diphthongal than in boat but nowhere near a merger with bull), and howl rhymes with towel not with pal, and fang has a slightly closer vowel than fan but is still nowhere near /feɪŋ/. Maybe there are people who have the pronunciations you mention, but I cannot agree with calling them "General American". —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 05:45, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
I don't recall ever hearing bold pronounced /bl̩d/ or bowl merged with bull, and I've travelled around the US quite a bit. Unless there are references documenting such vowel reduction and merger, I find it hard to believe it's not just an idiosyncrasy. It is, as Angr says, certainly not General American. Wiktionary has editors from all parts of the US (in addition to all parts of the world), so we could always ask in the Tea Room if anyone has heard of this merger. - -sche (discuss) 05:58, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
There are sources for /æŋ/ > /eɪŋ/ in California English, but that's not GenAm. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 06:05, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh, I've heard "fang", "rang", "language", etc pronounced with a vowel that is very close (though maybe not identical) to the vowel of "fain", "rain" and "lane" by people from all over the US, and indeed I don't recall hearing them pronounced with the /æ/ of "fan", "ran", "LAN" by anyone. So I don't doubt that they could shift to 'true' /eɪ/, or simply be mistaken for /eɪ/ or labelled /eɪ/ because no clearer symbol was available.* It's the idea that "bowl" is regularly reduced to "bl" that I have trouble believing.
*For example, here's Texan Kelly Clarkson (warning: link contains Christmas music) pronouncing "gay" (/eɪ/), "happy" (/æ/), and "hang" (a vowel that's not /æ/, and might be closer to /eɪ/ than to /æ/). And here's Barack Obama pronouncing "Spanish" (/æ/), "paced" (/eɪ/), and "language" (a vowel closer to "paced" than to "Spanish").
- -sche (discuss) 18:35, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
The only mergers of original /oʊl/ mentioned at English-language vowel changes before historic /l/ are the "hull-hole merger" (i.e. /ʌl ~ oʊl/) found in England and possibly in some North American varieties (requiring further study) and the "doll-dole merger" (i.e. /ɒl ~ oʊl/) in London. No mention of a merger of /ʊl/ with /oʊl/ in the U.S. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:42, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Wait, I take that back. Under w:English-language vowel changes before historic /l/#Others there is a mention of the possibility of other mergers, including /ʊl/ ~ /oʊl/, in American English, but more research is required. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:44, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, it certainly does need more research, especially for something so pervasive. Really, there should have been more attention to this as far back as the 1980s, or 1990s at the very latest. Now my generation are all adults, and our grandparents' accents no longer describe our speech very well. I'm 34, and the youngest child in my family, where my oldest sibling is 44. She was born in California's Bay Area and has also lived in Nevada, New Jersey, Utah and Washington state. I've never noticed a distinction in how she says bowl vs. bull.
And yes, the starting and ending points of true diphthongs can vary quite a bit in North American English (at the very least), even as a matter of allophony: [æɪ~ɛɪ~eɪ~eː]. Allophones don't necessarily become distinct unless an areal feature forces them to, such as when Canadian raising meets intervocalic alveolar flapping and pairs like rider-writer merge their consonants but retain different vowels. - Gilgamesh (talk) 04:21, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Shall we move this thread to the Tea Room to solicit wider attention and input? - -sche (discuss) 15:52, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
First of all, the Millennial Generation did not unanimously begin around 1980. There are differing views on that. Personally, I consider myself born around the end of Generation Y. Twoth, I merge pole and poll (except in perhaps über-sounding out speech) but not pull, I do not pronounce -cle to rhyme with "cole", nor do I pronounce "howl" as /hæl/ (I pronounce "howl" as /haʊl/), I pronounce "twenty' as /twɛnti/, not /ˈtwʊni/ or /ˈtʍɤɾ̃i/, my /æŋ/s and /eɪŋ/s fluctuate based on the swiftness of my speech (as do, to a far lesser extent, my /æn/s and /ɛən/s). Finally, Gilgamesh, I was born in the '90s. So... I doubt the mergers that you describe are as widespread as you believe them to be. Tharthan (talk) 16:29, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
I think poll and pole are homophones in all varieties of English; poll rhymes with neither tall nor doll. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:00, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. Tharthan (talk) 18:04, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
I am Australian, and for me poll and doll are rhymes, and pole is not. (The former two are pure short vowels, the latter is longer with a slight u-glide at the end.) --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 20:24, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
OK, I stand corrected! I see that the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary does list /pɒl/ (i.e. rhyming with doll) as a non-RP British variant as well. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:37, 28 September 2014 (UTC)


What was the reason you removed {qualifier|Compound words}[1]? Panda10 (talk) 20:33, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

It didn't seem necessary. We don't normally separate out compound words from other derived terms, do we? You can put it back if you want, but it just struck me as pointless clutter. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:00, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
The usefulness of the separation is more obvious when there is a larger list of derived terms, such as in szem. Panda10 (talk) 21:52, 18 September 2014 (UTC)


I actually didn't revert your edit, so much as I fused it with the previous edit. If you wish to include merged pronunciations, you should place them after the unmerged pronunciations, per how they are handled elsewhere on Wiktionary. Tharthan (talk) 21:26, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean by "merged" and "unmerged" pronunciations, but per Appendix:English pronunciation, the way we represent the SQUARE vowel of GenAm here is /ɛɹ/, not /ɛɚ/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:38, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
"Merged" pronunciation means "possessing the Merry, Mary, Marry merger". Unmerged means the opposite. As such, the unmerged pronunciation of affair would have /ɛɚ/, whilst the merged would have /ɛɹ/. Tharthan (talk) 22:45, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
The merry/Mary/marry contrast exists only when a vowel follows the "r", as in merry/Mary/marry. When the "r" is at the end of a word or before a consonant (e.g. square, affair, scarce), there is only one option, regardless of dialect. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 11:44, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

That is simply not true. First of all, this is evidenced by multiple people not understanding what was meant by "Mary" having the vowel of "mare" on Wikipedia's article that has coverage of the merger. This is because, for those people, "mare" instead had a sound combination that is essentially non-existent in dialects of English that lack the "merry, Mary, marry" merger: /mɛɹ/.

If you don't understand, let me explain by way of use of the word you gave, square:

In dialects without the "merry, Mary, marry" merger, "square" would be pronounced /skwɛɚ/;


On the other hand, in dialects with the form of the "merry, Mary, marry" merger that would result in "/skwɛɹ/", this would be the sound produced:



As such, the former would be the unmerged pronunciation, whilst the latter would be the merged pronunciation. But unlike cases that end in "-y", there really aren't any words in dialects without the "merry, Mary, marry" merger that end in a bare /ɛɹ/ with no following phonemes (with the possible exception of "err" in some idiolectal cases, though most people [including myself] pronounce that word /ɝ/. Nevertheless, I could see /ɛɹ/ as a possible pronunciation of the word).

Now, in any case, if you wish to include merged pronunciations, that's up to you. I don't particularly see the need for them, honestly, but common opinion disagrees. As such, it is fine to include them.

HOWEVER, if you do include them they should be placed after the merged pronunciations (this is due to them being merged pronunciations, and [as such] variations of the unmerged pronunciations that have been around much longer than they have) as is standard protocol. Tharthan (talk) 19:14, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

You just made those recordings yourself; clearly only one (or neither) of them can be your native pronunciation. Where is the published evidence that rhotic speakers with the merger pronounce square differently from rhotic speakers without the merger? (I for one have the merger but my pronunciation of square sounds much more like what you're calling the "unmerged" pronunciation.) The two transcriptions /skwɛɹ/ and /skwɛɚ/ don't actually reflect two distinct pronunciations; they're just two different conventions for transcribing the same pronunciation, just as price can be transcribed either /pɹajs/ or /pɹaɪs/ depending on what conventions you're following. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 19:41, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
The fact that you have the merger means that your understanding of the difference between /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ (/ɛəɹ/) is skewed. Also, keep in mind that there are a good number of variations of the "merry, Mary, marry" merger, so the way that you merge those vowels differs from the way that others with the merger merge those vowels.

Just as they are recognised as such by speakers (or claimed speakers) of RP in England that are familiar with IPA, /ɛə/ and /ɛ/ are different, /ɛə/ being closer to /e/ than /ɛ/ when perceived by the ears. Furthermore, /skwɛɹ/ is no doubt


, and /skwɛər/ is no doubt


. If you wish to insist that /skwɛɹ/ is the pronunciation used irrespective of merger status, then you will have claim that


is how EVERYONE would pronounce it. If you can't say that in good faith, then you'd have to concede that /ɛɹ/ is not the proper way to transcribe a purported universal pronunciation of the sound. Before you make your decision, keep in mind that /ɛ/ is the vowel of "yet" and /ɛə/ is the vowel of "yeah" (unless you also for some reason pronounce "yeah" as "yehh"; a pronunciation that I have never heard before in my life).

Are you still going to insist that "/skwɛɹ/" is the right transcription for "square" in dialects that lack the "merry, Mary, marry" merger?

Also, this is just a side note, but the only people who ever give me flack about transcription and the like on words that would be pronounced differently by speakers without the "merry, Mary, marry" merger are speakers with the "merry, Mary, marry" merger. I highly doubt that this is a coincidence. Tharthan (talk) 21:31, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

What is the evidence for your claim that "/skwɛɹ/ is no doubt
, and /skwɛər/ is no doubt
"? They're both pronunciations of square, which can be transcribed either /skwɛɹ/ or /skwɛɚ/ according to taste. There is no difference whatsoever in the reference of those two transcriptions. We use slashes because this is a phonemic transcription, and no variety of English has a phonemic contrast between coda /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/, so we only need one transcription. And the convention established at Appendix:English pronunciation is to use /ɹ/ after all vowels except /ɜ/. If you want to change Wiktionary's transcription conventions, you're welcome to try, but my talk page isn't the right venue. Incidentally, my understanding of the difference between the two is not skewed by the fact that I have the merger; I studied phonetics and phonology long enough to be able to hear differences I don't make myself and to understand the phonological structure of languages and dialects other than my own dialect of my native language. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:03, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Do you notice how most of the words that you keep transcribing as /ɛɹ/ are listed as being pronounced with /ɛə(ɹ)/ in the United Kingdom (the /ɹ/ being, I suppose, due to the fact that there are rhotic dialects in the United Kingdom)? Meanwhile, the other pronunciation listed for those words in respect to the United Kingdom is /ɛː(ɹ)/. This denotes two different kinds of pronunciations, one that is a diphthong /ɛə/ or /ɛɚ/, and the other that is a stressed /ɛː/ or /ɛːɹ/. This may well be related to the /ɛɚ/ /ɛɹ/ difference amongst American English dialects.

Second of all, the reason why no dialect differentiates /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ is because there are next to no words with /ɛɹ/ in them in non-Merry, Mary, marry merger dialects. In other words, one either has one or the other. Not both. In one whose speech has words ending in /ɛɚ/, /ɛɹ/ ending words would sound unnatural, and vice-versa.

Thirdly, if you were as familiar with linguistics as you claim, you would realise that /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ were different sounds. If you don't believe me, just have a listen to Dvortygirl's sound clips for "yeah" here:





And before you claim that the interjectorial state of the second sound clip somehow has magically influenced the vowels in the sound, let me just record a pair of sound clips in which I am making the same sounds:





Now, with all of this said, you cannot seriously claim that /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ are two different ways of writing the same sounds. It is blatantly obvious that /ɛ/ is not the same as /ɛə/. Tharthan (talk) 22:38, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

I have never said that /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ are two different ways of writing the same sounds. I said that /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ are two different ways of writing the same sounds. Of course the r has an effect on the vowel; that's the nature of r-colored vowels, which in American English are more like diphthongs than like vowel + consonant sequences. (I published a paper about this a few years ago which I can send you if you're interested.) The same options exist for the other r-colored vowels, too: you can transcribe start as /stɑɹt/ or /stɑɚt/, you can transcribe north as /nɔɹθ/ or /nɔɚθ/, you can transcribe near as /nɪɹ/ or /nɪɚ/. It's important to remember that IPA symbols are flexible in their reference; even though the /ɹ/ in red and the /ɹ/ in dare are phonetically different, it's acceptable, even preferable, to use the same symbol to transcribe them at the phonemic level. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 23:26, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

In the case of a word that (inter-continentally) seems to possess two different pronunciations-/ɛə(ɹ)/ and /ɛːɹ/ in the United Kingdom, and /ɛɚ/ and /ɛɹ/ in the Americas-I'd say that it's important to have both. Both pronunciations are already included for UK pronunciation, and as such both should be included for US pronunciation as well. It only makes sense to do so. Furthermore, if /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ are different sounds, then /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ are also different sounds; especially when one can actually pronounce the two, record two sound clips, and present those sound clips to you to hear yourself. The same difference between the two given pronunciations of "yeah" exists between the two pronunciations given for "square". The difference is, the pronunciations of yeah are all listed on its page, and it even possesses two different sound clips to reflect the /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ pronunciations. On the other hand, you are preventing me from giving the same treatment to affair. It is for this reason that I am here discussing this with you, because it is quite clear that the same treatment should be given in this case, if nothing else. Tharthan (talk) 23:42, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

But there aren't two pronunciations in General American, there's only one. You've provided no evidence for your claims that (1) there are two realizations of the SQUARE vowel in American English, and (2) that the isogloss of those two realizations correlates with the Mary/marry/merry isogloss. Also, the fact that /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ are different sounds does not imply that /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ are also different sounds, because all varieties of English (except Scottish English and some varieties of Irish English) merge vowels before coda "r" (which is then lost in nonrhotic accents). So while nonrhotic speakers contrast /ɛ/ and /ɛə/ in pairs like led/Laird, bed/bared, Ken/cairn, etc., no English speaker contrasts /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ when no vowel follows. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 08:19, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
General American is one thing, but US pronunciation otherwise is another. I'm not asking you to have /ɛɚ/ listed under General American pronunciation, I'm merely asking you to have it listed under US pronunciation. General American is well known for tending to possess the "merry, Mary, marry" merger, and as such would be prone to having this /ɛɹ/ pronunciation. Second of all, how can you claim that
represents something else other than /skwɛɹ/? That sound clip is a literal duplication of those sounds. Similarly,
literally represents /skwɛɚ/. Third, once again, how can one be expected to find a contrast in North American rhotic dialects between /ɛɹ/ and /ɛɚ/ when no vowel follows when there are no such words with /ɛɹ/ in them in dialects that lack the "merry, Mary, marry" merger? That's like saying "I firmly insist that boulder should be transcribed /boʊldɹ/ because there is no proof of a contrast between words in English that end in /dɹ/ and words in English that end in /dəɹ/." That's nothing but straw-grasping. How in the world can you logically justify that argument in good faith? Tharthan (talk) 14:39, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
We should never use the label "US" when giving pronunciations (I know we often do, but we shouldn't) because there is no single US accent. We should always label what specific accent the pronunciation belongs to. However, in this case, there is no difference between the transcriptions /skwɛɹ/ and /skwɛɚ/, because they refer to the exact same sequence of phonemes. There are lots of ways of transcribing the vowel in question; the American Heritage Dictionary transcribes it "âr", for example. You can transcribe it however you like as long as you define how you're using the IPA symbols. We could transcribe boulder as /boʊldɹ/ or /boʊldɹ̩/ if we wanted to as long as we define our symbols correctly. Finally, even if it were true that nonmerging accents pronounce affair differently from merging accents (and it isn't), using /ɛɚ/ for the vowel of affair doesn't make sense, because in those accents the difference between merry and Mary isn't /mɛɹi/ vs. /mɛɚi/, it's /mɛɹi/ vs. /mɛːɹi/ or /mɛɹi/ vs. /meɪɹi/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:33, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
WP has this:

Initially, they only had the contrast with "Mary" listed as /ˈmɛəɹi/; i.e. rhyming with "mare". But then someone who had the merger expressed confusion as to what that meant, because that didn't help him understand at all because he merged /ɛəɹ/ with /ɛɹ/ in words. As such, WP now has "Mary" listed as having either "the 'a' sound of 'mate' (/ˈmeɪɹi/) or 'mare' (/ˈmɛəɹi/)". Also, I agree with you that we shouldn't use "US" when listing pronunciations, but I also believe that GA is given much undue weight across the Wikimedia projects. It's treated as if it's perfectly equivalent with the RP of England, when it most certainly isn't. It is just some constructed sociolect that is based off of some Midwestern dialects. Furthermore, aside from perhaps some fellows on television, GA is not actually widely spoken everywhere across the United States. Most people I've met regard it as affected and erroneous. Meanwhile, RP may have a similar situation in parts of England, but actually has a fairly long history that goes quite a way back. On the other hand, GA's predecessor was Mid-Atlantic English, and that sociolect is now the laughing stock of any serious person. Tharthan (talk) 15:51, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

IPA pronunciation[edit]

Hi, I need a help from an English native speaker: can you provide me the IPA pronunciation of the name w:Christopher Johnson McCandless? Thanks --Tn4196 (talk) 20:01, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

I've added it to the page using Wikipedia's IPA conventions. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:10, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the time you spent for me. --Tn4196 (talk) 17:13, 27 September 2014 (UTC)