20 June 08

You Say Aluminium...

One of the hardest things I find to say, even though I’ve lived here for nearly 20 years, is “alOOminum.” Skedule and prohject don’t seem to pose the same problems, but aloominum’s just something I can’t get to come out of my mouth (a bit like stOOpid unless I’m being arch or or FRITillary unless I’m trying to illustrate how it’s possible to merge four syllables into one). I got chastised again the other day for saying aluminium “wrong” and retorted that we (we in this case meaning Brits, though this like so much else in my identity shifts according to the winds, the wicket or diamond, or the company) had the word first, so how could it be wrong?

But since I’m given to sounding authoritative without the slightest reason to, and having resolved to have more reason to, I decided to look it up.

Seems like there’s no clear cut answer either way, which doesn’t resolve anything but is certainly interesting. In fact it could form the basis for a sociolinguist’s PhD (or at least a paper). Pronunciation of scientific elements: hypercorrection for the latinate, or hypercorrection against it?

Posted by at 10:17 PM in Books and Language | Link |
  1. You’re from Britain? How cool!

    Teresa    21. June 2008, 19:08    Link
  2. Um, not quite. I was born in the US, grew up in Spain, had an English father, went to boarding school/uni in UK.

    A mix, in short… with two passports.

    Pica    21. June 2008, 20:55    Link
  3. with stress on the “i”? alumInium? Huh. I’ve never heard that.

    dale    22. June 2008, 06:57    Link
  4. Dale: yes. AlyewMINium.

    Pica    22. June 2008, 08:22    Link
  5. What in the world is the word “FRITillary”?

    Susan    22. June 2008, 11:09    Link
  6. A fritillary is a kind of butterfly, like a checkerspot or a swallowtail, many thousands of species of each worldwide.

    Not your everyday word, but when you hang out with birders who find the going slow, they start to learn their butterflies, and off we go…

    Pica    22. June 2008, 15:56    Link

Previous: Next: