[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwood.net
Mon Oct 31 09:09:11 EST 2005

>> Depends on how you pronounce the "r". It is possible with 
>> the American pronunciation.

The American 'hard' "r" is itself a semi-vowel, so the vocalic quality
is subsumed in the consonantal; but the specific vocalic quality is that
of an unstressed 'short' "u", videlicet the schwa.

>> I have lots of American friends and I have never heard your claimed
>> pronunciation of women. Women is pronounced 'wimin' not 'wumin'.

> No, you got it wrong! It's pronounced "women" with the "o" 
> like the "oul" in could, would or should, not "i", and the "e" 
> as in men, again not a "i". 

Karl, I have lived in the Midwest for 30 years, and for 30 years I was
an actor with formal training and practice in a wide variety of English
dialect, and I have never encountered this pronunciation of the plural.
The singular, indeed, has this pronunciation of the initial consonant
(except in some varieties of Mountain Southern), but the plural has in
my experience invariably a short "i". The "i" coloring in the unstressed
second syllable is of course a natural assimilation from the previous
stressed syllable. I observe that the American Heritage dictionary (all
I have here at the office) calls for a short "i" in the first syllable
and a schwa in the second.

> . . . the MidWest pronunciation . . . is considered the best 
> American pronunciation. 
Only by Midwesterners. In the first half of the last century the Midwest
dialect was widely adopted by professionals (actors, broadcasters, etc.)
as the least regionally marked of American dialects, and vigorously
promoted by speech teachers as an American equivalent of the King's
English. Since the sixties, however, the pressure for such a standard
has declined (as in fact it has in Great Britain as well), and the
prosodic deficiencies of the Midwestern dialect have become evident.

Stoney Breyer

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