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Subject: Re: The e glè èasgaidh gu daoin e a c huideachadh.
From: Tom Thomson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sat, 17 Nov 2007 14:05:55 -0000

text/plain (94 lines)

> >The vowel in English sit is not the same as the unstressed vowel
> >in Gaelic easgaidh - not remotely.
> Perhaps not in Scottish English... I thought we'd put this to rest
> agreed that English short [I] seems to be variable...

I don't think we've put it to rest.  I've spent lotsa of time in
England, lots of time in Scotland, and I haven't in either country come
across a native speaker of English who pronounce the i in sit like
Gaelic aigh/aidh at the end of a word.  I've come across Italians (not
native speakers of English) who give sit that (the Gaelic) vowel - or
something a bit longer, actually, but that vowel in qualities other than
length, but never English or Scottish people.

> >The vowel in English sit is the vowel in Gaelic
> >meas (fruit) for heaven's sake!
> Sorry but that's bollocks.  Gaelic ea is normally open mid [E] except
> s d g where it has close mid front [e] and English doesn't have that
> at all.

Now you are demonstrating both your arrogance and your ignorance (or
maybe your arrogance and that the arrogance leads you to ignore the
facts when they don't fit with your nice academic theory - the next
stage is usually an appeal to eminent authority, I guess I'll see that
in your reply to this).  If you've heard an open mid E in seachd (clear
a) or seadh (schwa) it probably wasn't from a native speaker.  Plenty of
other words have a clear a in North Hebridean (seachad, sealgair, and so
on) and in some forms of South Hebridean too.

Oddly enough, most native speakers I know pronounce meas (when it means
fruit, but not when it means esteem) like English miss and greas like
the English name Chris; and leaners tend to sound vaguely like English
mace and grace which comes quite close to the vowel you suggest it
should be and gets the initial consonant of greas wrong as.

> Ok, will all people participating in this conversation PLEASE get
> out their English dictionary and look up the word sit?  As far as
> vaguely approaching standard British English goes, this is a short
> half-centralised vowel.

Sounds like a very prescriptivist view - dictionaries (with some
admirable exceptions) generally set out the pronunciation that their
compilers think ought to be used (exactly what I suspect you are doing)
rather than the pronunciations people actually do use.  For me, I'm a
died-in-the-wool descriptivist, so I won't follow your advice.

> So heaven can't help you there I'm afraid ; )

> >The position and shape adopted by the tongue matter as much as the
> >vowel duration.  Try some high i in English that's short, like the
one in
> >peace (as opposed to the one in preen, which is long) and then you
>ha> ve an English vowel that's like aidh in easgaidh.

> Err... English doesn't have a short high [i] as a single vowel and I'm
> afraid several thousand tomes of research back me up on this.
> Scottish English and Scots vowels behave differently (if I remember
> and have a short i which is actually much higher than the English [I]

Ever been to Newcastle on Tyne?  Or Carlisle?  Or Bristol?  Or Exeter?
Like almost everywhere in England, they have a short high i (at least
it's as short as any vowel is in English) - and of course none of them
have it in sit.  The y at the end of many adverbs and adjectives is a
nice example, in fact if you find an English speaker with the i of sit
in a word like bloody you know pretty well straight away where in
England (within about 30 miles) he/she learned to speak. Words like
heavily are fun - the vowels may both be high, or both be mid, or be one
high and one mid and of course all varieties are heard in the town where
I currently spend about three quarters of my weekends (about 20 miles N
of the potts).

> Maybe I need to be more careful when posting to distinguish English,
> Scottish English, Scots and American English (yeurgh, this is why I
> having to use English vowels as a reference to Gaelic vowels)...
> ; )

I hate it too.  But we aint got nothing better in this medium (until we
all get mailers that can handle utf-8).  But I don't think varieties of
English is the problem this time, I think there is a clear vowel
distinction that you are just not hearing because you are concentrating
on length and ignoring another quality.

Fonn math dhuit

An Dara Micheal

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