Saturday 20 November 2010

Pronunciations in Hazon Garzanti 2010

On consulting my English-Italian Italian-English 2010 Hazon Garzanti Dictionary, I've realized that most of the pronunciations the authors provide for English are either old-fashioned or not the established ones at the moment.

Here are 18 words. Notice first their pronunciation(s) in Hazon Garzanti 2010 (which we can shorten to GARZ 2010 for convenience) and then the ones provided by Professor Wells in his LPD 3:

applicable: GARZ 2010 ˈæplɪkəbl (for both BrE and AmE); LPD 3 əˈplɪkəbl̩ (BrE 85%; AmE 36%), ˈæplɪkəbl̩ (BrE 15%; AmE 64%).

Asia: GARZ 2010 BrE ˈeɪʃə, AmE ˈeɪʒə; LPD 3
ˈeɪʒə (BrE 64%; AmE 91%), ˈeɪʃə (BrE 36%, AmE 9%) - BrE, those born before 1942, ˈeɪʒə 32%, ˈeɪʃə 68%.

ate: GARZ 2010 BrE et, AmE eɪt; LPD 3
et (BrE 55%; AmE considered non-standard), eɪt (BrE 45%, with almost 70% of younger people preferring this pronunciation).

bedroom: GARZ 2010 ˈbedrʊm (for both BrE and AmE); LPD 3 ˈbedruːm (BrE 63%),
ˈbedrʊm (BrE 37%).

controversy: GARZ 2010 ˈkɒntrəvɜːsɪ (for both BrE and AmE - notice the
ɪ of old-fashioned RP); LPD 3 kənˈtrɒvəsi (BrE 60%), ˈkɒntrəvɜːsi (BrE 40%) - Among RP speakers the latter form perhaps still predominates, but in BrE in general the former is now clearly more widespread.

deity: GARZ 2010 ˈdiːɪtɪ (for both BrE and AmE - notice the
ɪ again); LPD 3 ˈdeɪəti (BrE 80%), ˈdiːɪti (BrE 20%).

dissect: GARZ 2010 dɪsˈsekt (for both BrE and AmE - notice the quite improbable
-sˈs-); LPD 3 daɪˈsekt (BrE 89% - born since 1981, 95%), dɪˈsekt (BrE 11%).

exquisite: GARZ 2010 ˈekskwɪzɪt (for BrE); LPD 3 ɪkˈskwɪzɪt (BrE 69%, with more than 85% of younger people preferring this pronunciation),
ˈekskwɪzɪt (BrE 31%).

forehead: GARZ 2010 ˈfɒrɪd (for BrE); LPD 3 ˈfɔːhed (BrE 65%, with 80% of younger people preferring this pronunciation),
ˈfɒrɪd (BrE 35%).

impious: GARZ 2010 ˈɪmpɪəs (for both BrE and AmE); LPD 3 (ˌ)ɪmˈpaɪəs (BrE 53%),
ˈɪmpiəs (BrE 47%, born before 1942, 63%) - The traditional, irregular pronunciation has lost ground in favour of (ˌ)ɪmˈpaɪəs.

kilometre: GARZ 2010 ˈkɪləʊˌmiːtə (for BrE); LPD 3 kɪˈlɒmɪtə (BrE 63%),
ˈkɪləˌmiːtə (BrE 37%).

-less: GARZ 2010 lɪs; LPD 3 ləs (BrE 74%), lɪs (BrE 26%).

longitude: GARZ 2010 ˈlɒndʒɪtjuːd (for BrE); LPD 3 ˈlɒŋɡɪtjuːd (BrE 85%),
ˈlɒndʒɪtjuːd (BrE 15%).

often: GARZ 2010 ˈɒfn (the only pronunciation offered for BrE); LPD 3 ˈɒfn̩, ˈɒftn̩ (also with the now less common vowel ɔː).

poor: GARZ 2010 pʊə (the only pronunciation offered for BrE); LPD 3 pɔː (BrE 74%),
pʊə (BrE 26%, born before 1942, 41%).

schism: GARZ 2010 ˈsɪzəm (the only pronunciation offered for BrE); LPD 3 ˈskɪzəm (BrE 71%),
ˈsɪzəm (BrE 29% - maybe still common among the clergy).

year: GARZ 2010 jɜː (the only pronunciation offered for BrE); LPD 3 jɪə (BrE 80%),
jɜː (BrE 20%).

zebra: GARZ 2010 ˈziːbrə (the only pronunciation offered for BrE); LPD 3 ˈzebrə (BrE 83%),
ˈziːbrə (BrE 17%).

As is evident from the above, using the 2010 Hazon Garzanti Dictionary for checking how words are really pronounced in English today is NOT a good idea. Italian students of EFL may risk sounding fairly old-fashioned (especially the younger generation) and are therefore strongly advised to use LPD 3 or CPD or ODP for checking pronunciations, and Hazon Garzanti (or indeed any other good monolingual/bilingual dictionary) for the meanings of words.

Aside: It's interesting to note that in the introduction to their dictionary, the authors say that

[t]he 2010 edition is (...) the fruit of careful and constant monitoring of present day English and Italian (...).

Well, I've got the 1990 edition of the same dictionary and the words analysed above are all transcribed in exactly the same way!

Saturday 13 November 2010

...words, words, words yet again!

This week I've been thinking of other words which have come into Italian from English and, as ever, I would like to discuss their pronunciation(s) with you.

One of them is
management. According to the Devoto-Oli 2011, the term management was first used in Italian in the 1970s. Its pronunciation? Well, every dictionary I have at home says it is pronounced - or should be pronounced - ˈmɛnedʒment, although I suppose most Italians today pronounce it maˈnadʒmɛnt. Canepàri's Dizionario di Pronuncia Italiana (DiPI) lists more variants, although all of them are front-stressed:ˈmanadʒment, ˈmɛ-, -ne-, -ni-.
What about the term performance? Well, again all my dictionaries say it is pronounced perˈfɔrmans, but I think this is wrong: most Italians nowadays say ˈpɛrforman(t)s. The DiPI has perˈfɔrmans as the standard pronunciation and regards ˈpɛrformans or even pɛrforˈmans as variants which should be avoided by Italian native speakers because they are slipshod speech.
One last word: decoder. All my dictionaries (including the DiPI) say this is d
eˈkɔder, although I've heard many newsreaders on TV pronounce it deˈkodɛr, which, I suppose, is a rather recent pronunciation.

As you can see from the above, dictionaries in Italy are still very prescriptive, telling you HOW YOU SHOULD PRONOUNCE a word rather than how words ARE REALLY PRONOUNCED by native speakers. This (imho) rather negative approach to language is also evident in the pronunciation dictionary from RAI, Radiotelevisione Italiana, entitled Dizionario italiano multimediale e multilingue d'Ortografia e di Pronunzia, or DOP for short. Why is it that words like the ones we've just discussed are not included in it? Is it because they are English words and therefore should not be part of an Italian dictionary? Well, if they are used in Italian, it means they ARE Italian words, too, don't you think?

On Monday 19th July 2010, Professor Wells, on his excellent and fascinating phonetic blog, discussed the use of phonetic symbols in the DOP and also partly criticised its strongly normative nature. You can read what he said here.
On that occasion I joined in the discussion too, as I was really annoyed by the opinions expressed by one of the authors of the DOP, Tommaso Francesco Borri, about the fact that it is NOT a prescriptive pronunciation dictionary - which IT IS! Back then, I also criticised the transcription system which the authors had devised in order to avoid the complicated symbols found in IPA. You can read my comments here.

Mr. Borri's assertion that the DOP is not a prescriptive dictionary can easily be
tested. Just look up the words borsa, Borsa (bag; stock exchange) and zucchero (sugar), and check out their pronunciation. The DOP only gives ˈborsa for the former and ˈtsukkero for the latter. But almost every native speaker of Italian is aware of the fact that these are NOT THE ONLY pronunciations which people use in Italy. I don't say ˈborsa for example (which to me sounds very posh or old-fashioned); let alone ˈtsukkero. While these are the traditional pronunciations, many Italians today increasingly prefer ˈbortsa (or ˈbordza?) for borsa, Borsa and ˈdzukkero for zucchero.
In his DiPI, Canepàri only gives
ˈborsa, but acknowledges both ˈtsukkero and ˈdzukkero. Indeed, ˈdzukkero is what he prioritizes, stating that this is the pronunciation which is now most common both in Tuscany and in "Received Tuscan".

Other words with a similar alternation and in which ˈdz- or ˈ-dz- are becoming more and more prevalent are: avanzare (to advance), zuppa (soup), zampa (paw), zappa (hoe), zucca (pumpkin), zio (uncle), zitto (silent), zoppo (lame).

For more on the pronunciation(s) of 's' and 'z', read Canepàri's introduction to DiPI, pp.71-76.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Words, words, words...

In my blog for 19th June 2010 I discussed the Italian pronunciation of the term zoo and I said that many Italian native speakers pronounce it either ˈdzɔo or dzɔ.
When this week I asked my Italian EFL students how they pronounced it, some of them answered that they thought zoo could only be pronounced in one way - I don't know which of the two variants above, though. Even when I pointed out to them that there are people in Italy who use different pronunciations for the same word, some of them went so far as to say that that wasn't possible. Italian is essentially a phonetic language, so each word is pronounced the way it is written, they retorted.
Of course, we know that it is not always so, especially with words that have been borrowed into Italian from other languages, e.g. English.
According to the Dizionario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana (Zanichelli, 1999) by Manlio Cortelazzo and Paolo Zolli, the term zoo has come into Italian from the English expression zoo(logical Gardens), and was adopted by the French about 1931, at a time when they were already using zoologiste (first attested in French in 1760). So, the fact that most of my students were not aware of a pronunciation variant in zoo could well be because this term has been in the language for almost a century now and people do not notice - or criticise - speakers when they say for example dzɔ, which is not the pronunciation considered as correct by the majority of dictionaries in Italy. Also, the two forms, dzɔ and ˈdzɔo, sound quite similar to Italian ears and so it goes without saying that most people don't notice any difference.

Another word which a great deal of Italians seem to be using today is stage, meaning 'work experience, internship'. Many Italians pronounce it steidʒ, thinking that the term is derived from the English word stage meaning 'the raised area in a theatre which actors or singers stand on when they perform' - I don't know why they make this kind of connection! As a matter of fact - purists say - stage comes from the French staʒ and so that's how it should be pronounced.
...But, as my readers will know, when it comes to pronunciation, there is no right or wrong: preference is what should be taken into account. So whether it's staʒ or steidʒ, I personally don't care. A linguist's job is just to describe the language as it is used, NOT AS IT SHOULD BE USED.
Now, do you want to know how I pronounce the word stage? Well, I have to say that I fluctuate between the two possibilities discussed above: with my friends or with people I know well I tend to use steidʒ; with my superiors, in my work environment, or in more formal situations I say staʒ, as I'm aware of the fact that pedants are always on the lookout for "incorrect forms" and they might object to them vehemently.
The reason why the pronunciation steidʒ is so vigorously condemned is probably because the word stage, compared to zoo, has been in Italian "only" since the early 1960s (it is first attested in 1963). This means that its pronunciation is still unstable and it will probably take some time before people come to accept the more controversial steidʒ.
Canepàri, in his Dizionario di Pronuncia Italiana (Zanichelli, 2009), regards staʒ as the correct form, but acknowledges steidʒ (or even stɛidʒ) as a possible variant, although he judges it meno consigliabile ('less advisable').
In all the other dictionaries I have at home it's more or less the same story.

Yet another word which has been borrowed from English is report, having exactly the same meaning as the noun report in English. Italians normally pronounce it ˈrɛpɔrt or ˈripɔrt, not usually riˈpɔːt or rəˈpɔːt as it is in RP. (People who use the English pronunciation would just be ridiculed, I think, for sounding too posh.)
The word report has been in Italian only since the 1990s and I suppose many people pronounce it ˈrɛpɔrt because this is how the famous presenter Milena Gabanelli pronounces the name of her popular TV show: Report.

Now, over to you my dear readers: How do you pronounce zoo? Which pronunciations do you prefer and/or use for stage? How do you say report? I need as much information as possible!

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