More Blunders

| 6 Comments

The anonymous author of A Dictionary of Blunders has a thing about syllabic /l/:
BRIDAL should not be pronounced bri’-dle, but as spelled, bri’-dal.

GRAVEL … should not be pronounced grav’-l, but grav’-vel.

MEDAL … should be pronounced med’-al, not med-dle.

MORTAL … should not be pronounced mor’-tle, but mor’t?l.

But he makes no comment on the pronunciation of gambol, while saying it must not be confused with gamble, and we also find

GARDEN should not be pronounced gar’-den, nor ge-a’r-den, but gar’-d’n.

and

SUDDEN. This word is occasionally pronounced sud’dn, instead of sud’-den, as spelled.

If garden and sudden are allowed with syllabic /n/, then why not allow syllabic /l/ in the other words? I can see some sort of point to bridal/bridle and medal/meddle, as he may feel that the words need to be distinguished in pronunciation as in spelling, but there is no word ‘gravvle’ or ‘mortle’.

6 Comments

  1. Graham! I’m mildly surprised that you seem to be surprised at the nave blunders being made by the guy who wants to point out other folks’ blunders. But your mention of ‘gambol’ reminds me that I know of people who are at such pains to keep ‘gamble’ and ‘gambol’ distinct that they use a form ‘gam`b?lling’ with even the stress moved onto the offending syllable. I wonder if you or any of your readers have come across this development.
    I find it inconceivable that there shd be any genuine possibility of confusion regarding bridal/bridle or medal/meddle so I completely deplore any monkeying about with their pronunciations.

  2. I don’t think I’m surprised that he wants to keep bridal and bridle, for instance, separate, but since he mentions gambol/gamble, it did seem surprising that he hadn’t noticed the parallel with the other pairs he did want to distinguish. The ‘wrong’ stressing you’ve heard on ‘gambolling’ is yet another example of the way English can fiddle with the usual stress pattern for emphasis or contrast.

  3. To be perfectly blunt, I think the chap had cloth ears. I wonder what he would have made of “shambles” and “shambolic”. Unfortunately, the second of these did not come into being until the 1950s according to OED.

  4. Most people firmly believe that they speak in a spelling accent.

  5. Yes, and isn’t that depressing?

  6. i guarantee that if the author of “Blunders” (does it really exist?) talks the way he recommends, he is the center of attention at dinner parties. i haven’t read much of this thread, but i hope he knows what “schwa” is. could anyone think that spelling dictates pronunciation in a language like english?

    hopefully, i’ve misunderstood it all!

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