Embarrassing Questions

I'm sure each of us has a huge list of unanswered questions. Here's a blog for archiving all such questions. It would potentially serve to get us and others some answers which have been eluding us for a long time. The answers can come in the form of comments. Please note that we should stick to questions we had honestly asked when we were in school, or pre-university college. We are strictly barred from trying to find answers to our research problems!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Funny pronunciations!

Hi! All,

It's not so scientific a question but it had always crossed my mind. I have met people from different regions of the country and different parts of the world. So much so that I can place people's accents now, somewhat!

And English being the common language, I have heard really funny accents from different people! A question that always haunted me about English (or about any other language) is:

WHO DECIDES HOW A WORD HAS TO BE PRONOUNCED???

This has reference, in particular, to languages that have loads of ambiguities, e.g., English!!!!! The set "gh" is pronounced as "f" as well as "gh"................who's the one who initially decides how the word has to be pronounced? And who "okays" the pronunciation?

Pritesh

14 Comments:

Blogger Karthik said...

I think there are no longer fundamental additions to the English language. It's more often the case, that people coin new words to describe their latest ideas, and if the ideas are radical and convincing enough, the world accepts it and pronounces the way the originator first pronounced it.Eg robot, fluxions, quark...

As to the basic language itself , I think it pretty much grew the same way, evolutionary rather than revolutionary

March 20, 2006 12:31 AM  
Blogger Sujit Kumar Chakrabarti said...

Hi Pritesh,
I feel, this is a very apt question. Personally, I have been looking for such questions only, which don't necessarily require hi-fi theory to answer, but are yet quite tricky and difficult to answer.

Will look up sometime and try to figure out.

March 20, 2006 2:26 AM  
Blogger Pritesh said...

But Karthik, there are people still doing PhDs in English, looking for something new or the other! Which means, language is growing!

Is it because different people contributed to language that we have different pronunciations for the same set of words? THen, how come only some "limited" number of pronunciations? I've always been quite puzzled with these things!

March 20, 2006 3:38 AM  
Blogger Ajit said...

I had made a post about language and its "purity" some time back. It can be found here . Please ignore MaraaThI references if you don't understand.

I think :
Although various interesting pronunciations add to the beauty of the language, they should follow some basis, otherwise it might become difficult communicating, as everyone would come up with her own set of rules.

Similar applies to the rules of spellings. There are obvious historic reasons behind weird spellings of some words in English, but again, I think it adds to the beauty.

In passing, Mark Twain proved picking particular pronunciations of words in English, FISH = GHOTI. Can you prove that?

I would only say that pronunciation of words in English is very much logical if you compare it with that in Francais.

parle vouz Francais?

On the other hand, German comes closest!

March 20, 2006 6:49 AM  
Blogger sathya said...

New words are created by usage and definitely not from PhDs! Most of the new words created are some kind of personification and do not have a common rule on pronounciation. 'Google' is now used almost interchangeably with 'search' in common parlance. I reckon this would be the next word to be included in all modern dictionaries (I'm not sure if it has already added!). And once it has to be included, they have to define the phoenetics as well and this would follow common usage. Although I know a handful who pronounce it "Googly", it would definitely be listed as goo'gle.

There would be instances where the language can break into several dialects and become a new language over time (English being one!). But with the communication tools available in the current day, it has been minimised to a great extent.

Language can also evolve from revolutions and American is a good example. As long as a community identifies a word with something and accept it, the word / pronounciation originate.

My niece identifies a dog as "BOW". For practical purposes, it forms a word in my vocabulary now, although I don't use it in written form of communication!

March 20, 2006 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

english phds study the language,its history and its nuances. They dont create new stuff.

I think language was initially born out of necessity and now it is growing mainly for want of convenience and also partly due to a lethargy in using and remembering existing words in comparison to self-created simple jargon.

March 23, 2006 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More to the point is, IS there a correct pronounciation for any given word?

And while we are asking questions, does anyone know why the hands of a watch are always showing 10:10 in its advt. ?

Sagar
sagar.behere@gmail.com

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