Paradisical vestiges


In Our Time, on BBC Radio 4, continues to throw up unusual pronunciations. This morning (30 April 2010) we have had two more, both from the same speaker, who I think was Julia Lovell, Professor of Chinese History and Literature in the University of Cambridge.

First, she pronounced vestige to rhyme with prestige, a pronunciation I can find in none of the standard dictionaries. I wonder if this was merely a slip of the tongue.

Later she used the uncommon word paradisical, and rhymed it with bicycle. This adjectival form of paradise is found in the OED, with several quotations ranging from 1649 to 1992. The only one of the pronunciation dictionaries to give it is the Oxford, and the pronunciation given there, and in the OED itself, is /pærəˈdɪsɪkəl/. Only two of the OED’s references are to 20th century sources, the earlier one being from 1967, so it is not a word that Professor Lovell is likely to have heard spoken very often. The more usual adjective formed from paradise is paradisal (although there are several other forms in the OED), and the pronunciation given for this is /pærəˈdaɪsəl/.


  1. One of the male contributors on the same broadcast had an intrusive [t] in “al(t)so”. I suppose this parallels intrusive [t] in “prince”, making it sound like “prints”, but I’ve never heard it before.

  2. I haven’t heard that version of “vestige”. However, I think I have heard the “bicycle” version of “paradisical”. Well, it could be that I just read it and that was the pronunciation that sprung to mind. If your guess about frequency is correct, I think that’s more likely.

    I have definitely heard “altso” from a handful of acquaintances.

  3. Listening again, I was slightly misleading in my representation of the pronunciation of vestige. In fact, it was /vesˈtiːdʒ/ rather than /vesˈtiːʒ/, which may not rhyme with everyone’s pronunciation of prestige.

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