A footnote to yesterday’s discussion of garage:
The leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party, whose main policy is that the UK should secede from the European Union) is Nigel Farage. The Independent on Sunday newspaper this week had an interview with him, in the course of which the interviewer asked how we should pronounce his surname.So Mr Farage himself says ˈfærɑːdʒ (or possiblyˈfærɑːʒ), but he doesn’t mind much what anyone else says.
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It seems to be five years since I last wrote (blog, 23 Jan 2007) about the vagaries of Velar Softening — the principle by which velar k and g change to coronal s and dʒ respectively in Latinate words when the following vowel is spelt i, e, ae, oe, or y. From the point of view of spelling-to-sound rules, Velar Softening is responsible for the fact that before the vowel letters mentioned the letter c is almost always pronounced s in modern English, while the letter g is quite often dʒ (but NB the many Germanic words such as give, get).
Historically, before the Great Vowel Shift of six hundred years ago, this made sense. You had palatalization (softening) before palatal vowels. Since the GVS its naturalness has disappeared, which is why we now have various anomalies. For example, we may be uncertain about the consonants in loci (plural of locus) and fungi (plural of fungus).
One disturbing factor is the power of morphological analogy (this term is self-referential!). Given that the word analogy is əˈnælədʒi, there is pressure for the related analogous to be əˈnælədʒəs rather than the standard əˈnæləɡəs. Given that meningitis has dʒ, there is pressure for meningococcal to have it too. Yet you don’t generally expect g to be dʒ before o.
I was thinking about the word centrifugal. With the hesitation about its stress pattern, in BrE at least, it might be a good word to include in my next pronunciation preference poll: do we prefer ˌsentrɪˈfjuːɡl̩ or senˈtrɪfjʊɡl̩? Latin fŭga ‘flight, fleeing’ has a short vowel, so we “ought” to give this word antepenultimate stress (as apparently Americans always do). But the contrast with its antonym centripetal exerts a countervailing pressure for penultimate stress. As Newton discovered, the orbits of the planets depend on the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces.
I should imagine that the noun centrifuge is about as well known (or not) as the adjective centrifugal. But there doesn’t seem to be any analogical contamination from one to the other. I have never heard anyone use dʒ in centrifugal, or for that matter g in centrifuge.