Talk:either

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Is the sense "each" non-standard? It seems to contradict the sense of "one or other" (but not both). — Paul G 11:00, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I don't know such a sense? Can you give examples? — Hippietrail 12:21, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I've checked - this is acceptable usage. I give an example in the page ("a door at either end of the room" = "a door at each end of the room") — Paul G 08:56, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Oh you should've said, yes I know this usage. It's a different sense since it actually means "both" rather than "each", and of course only works with two things. — Hippietrail 11:05, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

SAMPA needs to be corrected. — Paul G 11:00, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I've improved the pronunciation section. — Hippietrail 12:21, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. — Paul G 08:56, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Is "either" also an adverb, as in "I don't like him and I don't like her either"? — Paul G 11:15, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I guess so. It has such a specific set of grammatical functions that it's hard to put it in generic categories. If it weren't in a western European language it would probably be called a particle... — Hippietrail 12:21, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Again, I've checked, and this is the case. I'll put it in now. — Paul G 08:56, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Pronunciations[edit]

My pronunciation might just be Americanized, but as a Canadian, I use both pronunciations interchangeably. I am about to remove the {{a}} tags because after the addition of Canada, they are going to be the exact same. —Internoob (DiscCont) 23:12, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Why are there two pronunciations of either?[edit]

As this can be a heated topic, I feel that I best give all that I know right off the bat in the table below. I would have to assume that, sometime after the early stages of the Great Vowel Shift, and before the meet-meat merger, the /eɪ/ in /eɪðɚ/ would have monophthongized to /eː/. Individual words do sometimes shift. Anyway, this is what I know. From other sources, like dictionary.reference.com, it is said that until the nineteenth century, the standard pronunciation of either was /iːðɝ/. So, how did the pronunciation /aɪːðɝ/ come to be? I have heard the story: "Queen Victoria married a German who brought over the /aɪ/. In German, 'ei' is pronounced /aɪ/, and the word is spelt with 'ei'." However, around the Web somebody refuted the idea saying that German cognate is pronounced something like yay-duh. So, if the Queen's spouse was keeping true to his native language, he would have probably pronounced the word as something like /eɪðə/, closer to the German cognate. Also, other words spelt with "ei" never shifted, like received, weight, etc. (except the word neither, derived from either). The only other word that I can think of where "ei" is pronounced as /aɪ/(excluding proper names) is height. However, in Middle English, it was sometimes spelt "hight," suggesting it was pronounced /hiːxt/. So, the origin of their pronunciations have nothing to do with each other. And I am still left confused. Therefore, I humbly ask for clarity. I thank you in advance.

Doubtful. First, the German words for either are entweder or jeder, so no /aɪ/ there. Second, how a foreigner, even a king, pronounces an English word usually does not influence native pronunciation. Third, in earlier times, the written language did not have much effect on the spoken language, since many or most people did not read or write, and since there was not that much material to be read anyway. But in the spoken language, vowel shifts are not uncommon, and the English language underwent the Great Vowel Shift in the 1500s (extending through the 1700s). The word either in Middle English was pronounced [ˈæːjðər]. The vowel sequence [æːj] was not much affected by the Great Vowel Shift (which mainly affected the pure vowels aː, eː, iː, oː, uː and a, e, i, o, u), but soon after the main shift (but before the main shift was completed), a secondary shift caused the pronunciation of [æːj] to change to [iː], and then a third small shift soon after affected the pronunciation of [æːj] (which was still in the process of changing), changing the pronunciation of [æːj] to [aɪ] (hence [ˈaɪðɚ]). So large areas eventually adopted the pronunciation [ˈɪːðɚ], while some areas wound up with [ˈaɪðɚ]. The pockets in the U.S. where either is pronounced [ˈaɪðɚ] were created by settlers who originated in those areas of England where [ˈaɪðɚ] was the predominant pronunciation. —Stephen (Talk) 05:32, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

Although I don't believe the story of Queen Victoria's spouse either, it is a story told. And I simply have it here only so that somebody did not give the story as a response. However, fortunately, you, sir, and I both agree that this story cannot be true. However, I am still a little confused.

  • For one problem, unfortunately an unavoidable inconsistency, sometimes the alteration of the diphthongs, including [æːj], are considered a part of the Great Vowel Shift, and other times they aren't. But if we wish to say they aren't, then that's fine. I have no objection.
  • Secondly, [æːj] in many other words such as day, vain, and weigh shifted to [eɪ].

That being said, do you, sir, happen to have another example, excluding derived forms of either, where [æːj] became either [iː] or [aɪ]? That would be helpful. Thank you.74.102.216.18615:30, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Stage Pronunciation
Middle English æɪðɚ
Early stages of GVS eɪðɚ
Later change eːðɚ
Meet-meat merger iːðɝ