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January 17, 2007

Hamsters for Canada
Posted by Teresa at 02:10 PM *

I was just interviewed by the CBC about my hamster post. It was a quickie, less than ten minutes long. They ended by exhorting the CBC to not let themselves be outdone in hamster coverage.

If they tell me when it’s going to air, I’ll tell you.

And Jen Moss said:

Thanks very much Teresa - the hosts really enjoyed the interview. We’ll open our show with it on Monday - you can tune in to Freestyle on www.cbc.ca. It airs between 2 and 4 in all timezones.
ANNOUNCEMENT: The segment may be broadcast tomorrow (Friday), rather than Monday. This is Jennifer Moss again:
So they keep moving your interview around on me!We may air it tomorrow at the start of our show - but this depends on another guest … so if not I will advise you of when it will air next week …
I’ll keep you posted.
Comments on Hamsters for Canada:
#1 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:15 PM:

I find that simply thrilling. How do we get NPR into the fray?

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:19 PM:

If it IS aired, will it be available somewhere on the internet, like YouTube without the pictures?

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Serge, I just dropped Jennifer Moss a query about that very thing.

Dawno, I do like the way your mind works. Any ideas for getting NPR to do more hamster news?

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Thanks, Teresa. Your fame spreads wider and wider, eh? Today the CBC, tomorrow Jon Stewart?

#5 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Suggest a story idea to NPR using this form. I'd do it, but there's something screwy about my e-mail that won't let me use forms like this.

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Which CBC program? "As It Happens," I hope? I get that one on my local public radio station every day.

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Or you could talk to On The Media. They're right here in NYC, and they occasionally have room for pure-whimsey stories like this. Or so it seems to me.

#8 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Studio 360 and This American Life have theme shows. Imagine an entire hour devoted to the hamster and its cultural impact.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Meanwhile, Tania, Animal Planet has a weekly show about meercats.

#10 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:18 PM:

New Scientist isn't exactly a hamster-free zone, either: This week's "The Last Word" is a discussion of the question,

Could hamster power be an environmentally friendly answer to the impending energy crisis? How many hamsters running on wheels would it take to provide energy for a house or a factory?

#11 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:07 PM:

That's an "As It Happens" kind of story, although it would also fit "Definitely Not the Opera".

#12 ::: Dan R ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:09 PM:

Do you know the name of the interviewer? That would be a giveaway to most CBCphiles.

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:15 PM:

I'm afraid I didn't catch their names!

#14 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:23 PM:

My rats stare at me accusingly from their cage, as if chiding me for allowing them once again to be marginalized by the Hamster Menace...

Who seeks not for love?
Tawny cuteness overwhelms
Rats find no justice

#15 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:43 PM:

For those wondering which program/interviewer -- might I direct you to comment #134 in the hamster thread...

#16 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Looks like a program called Freestyle, and the schedule is here.

You can listen to CBC digitally here.

I have no idea if they archive the show online, though I know they have a service where if you know when the interview was played you can order a tape -- I think it's $25/hr show though.

#17 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:18 PM:

i saw an even better hamster headline here in australia:

HELD TO RANSOM BY INVISIBLE HAMSTERS

the story was about the building of a large hotel in a wooded area of germany. since the site was the habitat of rare golden hamsters, the developers were obliged to do an environmental study before they could start construction. after a year, they hadn't found any golden hamsters at all so they declared that the hamsters had died out locally and concluded they could start work. however, environmentalists said that the golden hamsters were now SO rare in that area that no-one should be allowed to build a hotel there at all... so you can indeed say that the developers were held to ransom by invisible hamsters.

#18 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Truly the hamster menace spreads. I'm seeing one of those old newsreel black and white maps with the sold black area, denoting Hamster Rule, spreading from England across the pond to Greenland (home of the wild Golden Hamster Hordes), then through Newfoundland and the Maritimes, only to be confounded by Quebec and the hamsters innate inability to speak French.

#19 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:03 PM:

True hamster story...
I used to love hamsters, but last spring my daughter brought two hamsters home from high school. Unbeknownst to us they had hamster scabies (mites) and my daughter contracted them. She then slept in our bed and gave them to us. For weeks we were at a loss for what was making us itch, but finally we caught a couple of the critters (smaller than the head of a pin) and identified them, first as human scabies then as hamster mites. The traditional 14-hour pyrethrum treatment didn't work so we had to take heartworm medicine. What an ordeal...not to mention the expense. And we had to resort to euthanasia on the hamsters. So the moral is no more hamsters in my house for a while, or make sure you look a gift hamster in the mouth.

#20 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 01:11 AM:

Canada has long been objectively pro-hamster. Did Hammy The Hamster come up in the other thread?

#21 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:56 AM:

Can this be a co-incidence? Theresa Neilsen-Haydn mentions hamsters and the very same day a small South African publishing house, with no previous interest in rodents (apart from the politician kind) receives an order for a book which we ostensibly publish called "Hamsters"!!

#22 ::: Jenny J ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 12:28 PM:

All that need happen now is for the BBC to pick up on all this (and for Making Light to tell us) and TNH might well be responsible for the great Hamster News Snowball of 2007.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Theresa Neilsen-Haydn

That HAD to be intentional. Three different misspellings in a single name could be nothing less. But I fail to get the point of it in this context.

#24 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Three different misspellings

Four!

#25 ::: Scott Lemieux ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 04:27 PM:

See, Canadians have a nose for a great story...

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 04:48 PM:

Scraps: Quite. *blush* Charolean has a lot to answer for.

#27 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Good Lord! Tales of the River Bank was Canadian? I'll never think of GP in the same light again.

And Johnny Morris! How could you deceive us all by overdubbing those colonial rodents with your charming BBC Welsh!

I haven't been so surprised since I discovered that Marine Boy wasn't just a cartoon done badly to save money (as I thought as a member of its viewership in the early 70s), that it was actually the groundbreaking first example of manga or anime to hit British television.

Which may explain why I have no time for manga and anime to this day. I actually heard someone pronounce the words "manga" and "anime" on some Channel 4 artsy-fartsy show the other day, and one of us should be really embarrassed, as his pronunciations were completely different from mine.

But you know what? No-one will ever know, since I can't imagine an occasion whre I might be called upon to pronounce either one.

Unlike the word "subtle", which I used to think was two different words with rather similar meanings, one of which I had never seen written, and the other I had never heard pronounced, which when you think about it is quite peculiar until...

oh-oh.

#28 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Niall @ 27 "Unlike the word "subtle", which I used to think was two different words with rather similar meanings, one of which I had never seen written, and the other I had never heard pronounced, which when you think about it is quite peculiar until..."

I had the same problem with the city of La Jolla, which I had read about and the city of La Hoya which I couldn't find on a map of California.

La Jolla, as it happens, is home to La Jolla Bioengineering Institute and La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation which Google tells me uses hamsters in their research.

#29 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Dawno writes: which Google tells me uses hamsters in their research.

Ah yes, the wheels. Backup power for your lap-top, mustn't lose any data. Right, Hammy?

#30 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Niall @27 re subtle/suttle:

Me too! I can't remember what the nuances were anymore, but it made perfect sense at the time. I think I realized my error in a flash of embarrassment when I was fifteen or so.

#31 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 11:12 PM:

I am still not convinced that the spelled word "victuals" and the spoken word,"vittles" are the same thing.

#32 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 11:25 PM:

I think my biggest mental disconnect was while I was visiting Brazil and eventually realizing that the place my friend kept calling something like 'Bella Rizonchay' was in fact Belo Horizonte.

#33 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 12:44 AM:

My suttle/subtle thing was the word enigma, which I knew, but which for some reason I always (every time) read as "engima." I don't remember what it was exactly, but I had a very complex definition for "engima," which was almost, but not quite, the same as the definition of enigma.

Also, I don't know what I was reading that I saw that word so much.

Mishap and awry gave me a lot of trouble, but not the same level.

#34 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 12:46 AM:

For the longest time I pronounced "misled" (as in, what Bush/Cheney did to Americans about Iraq's WMD) with a long i. The s had a z sound, too.

#35 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 03:47 AM:

Ah, well, I spent a good part of my teen years never linking the verbal "melon-kolly" with the written "mell-anch-oh-lee". (melancholy). For someone with a lot of melancholic friends, this was an odd vocabulary lack.

#36 ::: Sian Hogan ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 04:52 AM:

"Segue". That one has only just been resolved for me.

Which leads me smoothly (or not at all smoothly) to: hamsters.

They're vicious things, especially the itsy-bitsy little Russian Dwarf ones. I had two that got into a fight -my cousin's fault- and one of them was, entirely literally, torn apart. It was not a good thing.

But I think hamster stories are big on the BBC for two reasons. Firstly, all stories about hamsters are just a little bit funnier than normal stories, and secondly, hamsters are the basic starter pet over here. There's a LOT of them.

#37 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 07:05 AM:

34, 35: Oh thank God, I'm not alone.

#38 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 07:56 AM:

For me it's always been "Calvary" and "Cavalry" that tend to sound the same. Plus, I occasionally say the "w" in sword.

And then we can get into the "You all," "All you all," and "You-ins," which, depending on my orneriness that day, I switch between.

#39 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 07:57 AM:

Nancy@31:

I had to look that up to make sure you weren't joking.

If I keep discovering that I need to merge words like this, does that mean that my vocabulary is getting smaller?

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Because I never heard it spoken, I thought as a boy that 'misled' was pronounced 'missled'.

#41 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Steve Buchheit #38: You should get a kick from Brunner's Muddle Earth, then.

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:18 AM:

#39: No, because the extra entries count as -1 word each. They're words you THINK you know but aren't there. So by eliminating them your vocabulary increases. Trust me on this.

A friend (I swear!) argued vociferously with a teacher that ANKS-it-y and ang-ZIGH-it-y were two different words. I myself pronounced 'shrapnel' with the accent on the second syllable; another friend, consoling me in my embarrassment for that, said he knew a word in his youth which he pronounced sha-PELL (it's a place you go to pray).

#43 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:34 AM:

I had the good fortune to hear "debris" pronounced on the old Battlestar Galactica series opener as I was reading the novelisation. Otherwise, I might have ended up like one of my college classmates, who kept pronouncing "spatial" "SPAT-ee-ul" all through his final presentation.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:37 AM:

My brother and I learned D&D entirely from books, and played it exclusively with one another for a year or two before getting anyone else involved.

Our battles had mealy rounds.

#45 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:39 AM:

Mine was the two diseases--you know, new-moan-ya and pneumonia.

Also ee-pit-o-mee and epitome.

I am to this day uncertain as to how to pronounce "forte", as in "That's not my forte". The perils of a written vocabulary.

#46 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Sundre #39:

The nice thing about English is that if you're worried about the size of your vocabulary, you can just make up more. Some sandwich place used the word "splodgilicious" in a TV ad last night, which I think is a perfectly cromulent word.

#47 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Carrie S.@45: Regarding "forte," it's correctly "fort" (there's no accent on the e, so it is silent), but if you pronounce it that way, the majority of people will correct you and tell you it's "for-tay."

#48 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Two brands of French car - though I knew people who said they drove a Persho, all I ever saw them in was a Peugeot, which I mentally read as Pew-got. My parents tell me that I also used to pronounce steak to rhyme with teak. (It wasn't a common dish when I was growing up.)

abi:
"Darn it! My character died in that mealy!"
"Yes, he's had his chips."

#49 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:57 AM:

#47: because most people are more familiar with "forte" meaning loud in musical Italian, and pronounced for-tay, than with "forte" meaning strong in French, referring to the thicker and less flexible part of the sword's blade, and pronounced fort. You want to catch your enemy's blade on your forte, because it's easier to parry; the thin part, the foible, will bend.

#50 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 10:37 AM:

I lost a spelling bee once because I had no idea what this 'viaments' word meant. I'd never seen it. Anger, force, "She spoke with viaments," nothing.
When they spelled it for me, I recognized the word vehemence, which I had never had cause to say.
The next big spelling bee I had, I ordered tapes of the official reader going through a short set of the words so I knew what they sounded like.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:02 AM:

We always said mealy. I don't think it's because people didn't know the French was pronounced mayLAY (as in "I melée with another man as with a woman if I WANT to!"). I think it was that mealy was easier to say, combines better with 'round', and honors the good ole American tradition of making furrin words our own ('avocado', 'guacamole', 'slew'), not unlike a similar English tradition ('smashing').

ajay #49: I never knew that! Cool! Now I can use that explanation. It's also very cool that 'foible' and 'forte' both refer to parts of a sword...that has all sort of metephorical possibilities. The pen is mightier than the foible, but weaker than the forte. And like that.

#52 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Diatryma (50): I had a similar experience in a spelling bee with 'dossel' (i.e., 'docile'), which I had been mentally pronouncing 'dock-ile' (with a long 'i'). Fortunately, the rules of this particular bee allowed one to ask for a definition, and I made the connection in time.

#53 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Niall @ 46 - that's why at my home we refer to anything comfortable, or the state of being comfortable, as "pufflubby", a word my daughter coined at 6 because she had trouble pronouncing comfortable.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:33 AM:

New subthread! Family words! In our house milk was sometimes called mik-mik-meegok, that being my oldest brother's toddlerian first attempt (with two false starts) at the word.

'Pufflubby' is wonderfully evocative. I may steal that one. I love puffy things (I'm thinking comforters and pilli, not my bottom eyelids, which are not at all pufflubby).

'Pilli' is our deliberately-being-funny family word for 'pillows'.

#55 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Xopher, feel free to steal pufflubby and use it often. Then when I can Google it, I'll feel a sense of pride.

#56 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 12:00 PM:

The mother of a friend of mine nearly fell over laughing when I described the bo-DEECE of the dress I had just bought. Up until then, I had never understood what people meant when they referred to certain novels (inevitably with a man with long flowing hair on the cover) as Bottus Rippers.

#57 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 12:27 PM:

TexAnne #37:

Join the crowd. There was a long-running family joke about me as a "mel-ANG-koly baby".

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:03 PM:

OK, I'm listening to CBC Radio One, and there's no Freestyle. Will it come on after the news?

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:07 PM:

And here it is. On after the news.

#60 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Xopher, which link are you using?

#61 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Is there a way to demonstrate the connection between written and spoken words? I'm trying to think of a way to teach kids the weird words that works the same way as the other words, but now I'm coming up with lots of vocabulary that I mispronounced for years. Horses have saddles and briddles, British houses have coRYEdors, and after you died of die-SENT-ery in Oregon Trail, you could move to the computer that played Gran Pricks.
Language is fun.

#62 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:25 PM:

re: 60 Never mind. Got it working.

#63 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Because I never heard it spoken, I thought as a boy that 'misled' was pronounced 'missled'.

"Misled" got me too, except I pronounced it "my-zuld."

And don't get me started about Superman's home planet "Cripe-ton."

#64 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Family words? "Bears". Means either "sleepy" or "chilly" depending on context.

This is because an ex-boyfriend and I had a running joke about "bears go grrr," which mutated into types of bears--cold bears go brrr, mechanical bears go whirr, etc etc. This spread throughout our circle of friends, leading to saying things like "I'm a sleepy bear" instead of "I'm sleepy", to the point where my current boyfriend and I now say we're bears, with no qualifying adjective. But we narrowed it down to only two meanings, likely because we're unlikely to need to say we're suddenly mechanical.

#65 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Sian (36), hamsters aren't vicious. They're just touchy about who they'll live with. Siberians need companionship, but your best move is to raise littermates so they'll grow up being used to each other. Even then, fights can break out if their usual social balance is disturbed.

Syrian hamsters (the default hamster) are strictly solitary. The only animal they automatically recognize as an enemy is another Syrian hamster. If you mistakenly put more than one adult in a cage, they'll fight, and you're likely to lose at least one of them. But if you keep them one to a cage, socialize them when they're young, and treat them well, they'll be peaceable and mild.

#66 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:09 PM:

I've got CBC playing (2:00 Pacific). Was the interview on today?

#67 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:29 PM:

The remote control used to be known as the Hoofer-Doofer in our family. Occasionally we still refer to cashpoints (ATM's) as Diddlers.

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:41 PM:

DaveL #63: Cripes!

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:46 PM:

DaveL @ 63... Is it just comics fans who know that the 'on' of Krypton should be pronounced as in 'electron', and not 'Scranton'?

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 06:39 PM:

Dawno: No.

#71 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 08:29 PM:

serge,

Is it just comics fans who know that the 'on' of Krypton should be pronounced as in 'electron', and not 'Scranton'?


maybe. but it's comic fans who decided there's an invisible "e" in front of "xavier." (me & my siblings pronounced it correctly, probably because someone decided to ask our parents. this was before the cartoon & movies.)

speaking of pronounciations from comics: there was a miniseries, i'm wanting to say it was by peter david (too close to shabbat to google), called "nth man." it was probably pronounced enth man, as in maths, but my father would tease us by referring to it as "nith man."

i learned to read out of comic books. i remember stumbling over the conventional depiction of stuttering: planet terry said, "b-but, d-dad!" & in my head he went "bee butt, dee dad."

#72 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 03:45 AM:

I also said "missiled" for "misled" (with an unvoiced s). And "las-vicious", as in "lewd and las-vicious behavior".

#73 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 06:48 AM:

Not quite the same thing, but sort of related:

When I was very young, I somehow got the impression that the Clone Wars in the backstory of the Star Wars universe were in some way related to the cold war. I came to the conclusion that Obi-Wan Kenobi was supposed to have fought against Russia when they developed cloning technology following the end of the second world war, or something to that effect.

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:27 AM:

#71: The comics I read had a convention for "character about to lie;" they'd say "Er, I have an appointment" or something. That 'er' to the New Yorkers who were writing these comics spelled a sound I'd spell as "uh," because 'r' is not pronounced after a vowel in that dialect.

But I was unaware of this. I was growing up in the Midwest, where the 'r' is pronounced in all positions, and with a sound like a little kid imitating a racecar ("rrr-RRR-rrr!"). I therefore imagined Clark Kent, above, saying "Rrr, I have an appointment"! This wasn't too embarrassing, except that it crept into my own speech when mocking my (or someone else's) unwillingnes to admit to something or other!

#75 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:37 AM:

#74: What? "Er" and "uh" are the same sound? The things I learn around here...

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:39 AM:

HAH!!!! Another Midwesterner (this one more West than Mid) gets caught in East Coast phonetic spelling!

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 09:09 AM:

miriam beetle @ 71... it's comic fans who decided there's an invisible "e" in front of "xavier."

Huh? Could you spell that one out phonetically, miriam?

I'm more annoyed with the movies's mispronunciation of the family name of the Last Son of Scranton's archnemesis. I mean, why do they keep saying 'Luther' instead of 'LuTHOR'?

#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Speaking of Superman... The comics are doing some neat stuff with him, these days. There's Grant Morrison's 'alternate' version, very inspired by the early Sixties's version, down to Superman tossing a tree into orbit as he's playing fetch with his dog Krypto. There's Kurt Busiek's mainstream version that has had him being given visions of the near future where his existence caused Earth to become a blood bath and Jimmy Olsen is the last human on Earth. And, last but not least, Geoff Johns and Richard Donner's book, very full of imagery from the original movie, and with Lex Luthor back to his old evil-genius ways and setting a scary Bizarro loose onto Metropolis. All of this makes me wish Bryan Singer's movie had taken into account all the reinvention the character went thru since 1978.

#79 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 09:55 AM:

#76: Well, North East phonetic spelling, at least. Actually, I've always thought of it as New England. (I guess I don't hear enough NYC speech to see if it stretches down that far. I don't hear much Southern speech at all. The furthest south I've lived is MD.)

Even then, it seems like the idea is to interchange "er" and "uh" endings. Thus, people refer to my friend Noah as "No-er." Once I overheard someone in a locker room talking about selling "lobstahs" in the "pahking laht" of the local "Mahket Basket" in "Bill Ricker"
(The latter, of course, is the MA bedroom community of Billerica. You don't want to see the looks on people's faces if you decide that "Billerica" is a 4 syllable name. "Bill Ricka" is apparently acceptable.)

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Serge #77: Some English speakers only recognize 'x' as spelling /ks/. They can't pronounce that combination at the beginning of a word, so they put /e/ (as in bet) in front of it: 'Xavier' gets pronounced /eksey'viyer/ ("ek-SAVE-ee-air"). Of course, it probably should be /haviyey'/ ("ha-vee-YAY"), but I myself always pronounce it /zey'viyer/ ("ZAVE-ee-air").

-Xopher /zo'fr/ ("ZOE-fur")

#81 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Xopher,

Sorry, you're still eksofer inside my head. But I'll note that for any sonnets in the future.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Xopher... As for where I come from, 'X' is pronounced 'GS'. Thus, 'Xavier' in French is pronounced 'gsah-vee-hay'.

#83 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:43 AM:

JC #79: English has very strict rules about syllables and juncture. If one word ends in a vowel and the next starts with one, there's an automatic consonant. Two vowels are never allowed to come together in English—they're always separated by at least a glide. It's so automatic that most people will say "that's not a real consonant!" about the automatic one in their dialect.

And there's the rub. Different dialects use different automatic consonants, and don't understand why other people think they're putting in anything that should be recognized as phonemic. So to me, 'Cuba and Africa' is pronounced with a glottal stop between the two first words; to John F. Kennedy, there was an automatic 'r' in the same position instead. This sounds to me like he's saying "Cubarand Africa," but he isn't.

The New York dialect group is quite distinct from the New England dialect group; in fact, my Chicago Midwestern twang is considered part of the New England dialect group, and we have a VERY strong /r/ after vowels! The US has only a few major dialect groups, but "New York Dialects" is a group by itself...roughly equal in number of dialects and in distinctiveness from other groups, but tiny geographically. This has a LOT to do with the fact that the New York area was and is the main first step on American soil for immigrants.

While both NE and NY dialects don't pronounce 'r' after a vowel (or rather realize its presence as lengthening of the vowel), the vowel modification is different. I would transcribe a typical NY pronunciation of 'park' as /po:k/ (same vowel as 'lock', but lengthened), but the Boston (for example) one is not only lengthened but fronted, so I'd be tempted to transcribe it as /pæ:k/ (in other words, identical to the pronunciation of 'pack' except for the prolongation of the vowel; possibly even more fronted).

Btw, I erred in transcribing my own damn name above! "Long o" (as in 'boat') is a combination of "short o" (as in 'caught') and a glide; my transcription should read /zow'fr/. Apologies for any inconvenience! :-)

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:47 AM:

abi #81: As long as I'm not eksTofer! That's the only pronunciation I really think is stupid; after all, you write Xmas, not Xtmas. The X is a shorthand for 'christ', not 'chris'. It's a cross, yo.

#85 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 10:53 AM:

I had never even conceived of you as Xtopher. Although I know, intellectually, that you are Christopher restated, I just look at your online name and pronounce it as I see it.

It would be like deciding I was Abig*.

(Irony: this is probably the only place online that I am not known by my usual pseudonym, evilrooster. I don't know why I didn't start posting here under that name, but I didn't.)

---------
* A big what?, they cry.

#86 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Eggzofer, #76: I beg your pardon? I am a Suthunuh, suh.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 11:08 AM:

What is the technical term for dropping the 'G' out of 'ing' suffixes? You know, like in Singin' in the Rain, and, no, I'm not trying to bring the conversation back to Cyd Charisse.

#88 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 11:53 AM:

#86: Yeah, yeah. Whatev. :-D

#89 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Re the many pronunciations of Xavier (and X):
I believe that the Catalan pronunciation is something like "shah-vee-ay".

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 12:23 PM:

If I may briefly revive the abusonym thread, last year I had to take my wife to the nearby clinic's urgent care. She was treated by Doctor Faust.

#91 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 12:45 PM:

There is a local outfit here named Xerox, which I've always heard pronounced ZER-ahks.

#92 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Serge @69 - I've always pronounced the on in Scranton like the on in electron. Fortunately Scranton doesn't come up in conversation as much as Krypton where I come from.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Neil Willcox... Scranton doesn't come up in conversation as much as Krypton where I come from...

...and that would be where? Not Apokolips, I hope.

#94 ::: Jendorphins ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Invented/family words: During a long slow day at work I decided to start an international movement to take the "geekiest" word possible (I chose "Mendelbrot" given its picture-of-math qualities) and transform it to mean awesome or superlatively cool--bonus points for saying it like Yoda. Despite backpacking to other countries and working with 20-somethings all over Canada & Europe and trying to spread the word, it has failed to catch on. I'm still waiting for the day when I hear some snowboarder being interviewed at the Olympics saying "Dude that was the run I trained for; it was totally Mendelbrot"...
J.

#95 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Eksofer and Abigwhat (74, 75, 76)

I'm yet another East Coaster who's always read "Er" as, well, "er"..."Ur"..."rrrrrrrr". Born and bred within 20 miles of Grand Central Terminal, but I've often and often been told that I don't sound like a New Yorker at all. Since my mother was from eastern Washington state via Chicago, and my father from the western side of the Adirondacks via Philadelphia, and I became addicted to Britlit at an early age, it's true that I don't speak Noo Yawk well at all.

And I'm another lifelong bookworm who learned words by reading them and guessing at the pronunciation, often amusingly far from the mark.

I blush to confess that I rarely read (both "reed" and "red") comics, so I'm pretty sure that I picked up my "er" from suspect British literary conversational models l/i/k/e/such as DLS's Lord Peter Wimsey.

And when googling for enlightenment just now, I found a link to a Neil Gaiman journal entry where he complains that after a long trip, his family has given up trying to hold conversations with him

due to the way that I seem very pleased to have successfully said "Umm...." and sometimes "Er... is there any tea?" and such and then trail off into bemused and jet-lagged and tour-lagged silence.

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/10/um-er-um-tea.html

And somehow it doesn't seem likely that Gaiman would title an entry "Um-er-um-tea" if he was actually pronouncing it "Um-uh-um-tea".

So I do wonder if there may be another legitimate version of "er", coming from another dialect, separate from but related to the "uh/er" usage in the comics. But I don't know how to search it out. And, of course, I could be completely mizzled.

#96 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Harriet @95:

And somehow it doesn't seem likely that Gaiman would title an entry "Um-er-um-tea" if he was actually pronouncing it "Um-uh-um-tea".

Although their "er" and "uh" sounds are very different to people with an English accent (south of England, I mean, though wider than Received Pronunciation), I can't hear the difference most of the time.

#97 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Harriet, I speak english with a South-East England accent*, and say "er" as urrh. Not quite Uhh, and cetainly not Rrr.

Reading this back, I realise I haven't really helped. But at least you can try out the different sounds to try and find the subtle differences.

* Occasionally my vowels lengthen, a legacy from eight years of childhood in Scunthorpe, but that's only for words like bath or grass. Also I lisp and stammer when tired or stressed, and listeners can't quite decide if I speak with a Thanet** accent, or am trying to do something close to RP (The Queens English).

** Pronounced Fannit

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Until you've heard what the South-Eastern English can do to the letter "r", you can't believe it.

My friend from West Sussex pronounced "ion" and "iron" indistinguishably. I would spell both of them "eyeuhn" (I'm from California.)

I once had drinks with a group that included a Londoner, a Geordie (ie, from Newcastle), a lowland Scot (West Lothian), and an Aberdonian. I ran them through the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, and not a one of us pronounced the letter "r" the same way.

#99 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Harriet @ 95 - I too was raised within that radius of Grand Central. In fact, I grew up in a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn, in a family that had lived there since 1918. When I speak, I can hear the regional speech markers, yet people always tell me, "You don't sound like you're from Brooklyn!" as if I should sound like a character from Welcome Back Kotter. It makes me crazy.

I find that I can understand most native English speakers, except for some people from the Caribbean, especially some Jamaicans and Guyanese, who seem to speak our equivalent of Swiss-German. Well, some really heavy Highland accents can be hard too, but I usually manage to figure them out.

I really wonder how foreigners cope with the variations of English. I have had several Germans tell me that they struggle with heavy southern and urban African-American accents. They usually confess to feeling guilty about the latter.

#100 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Serge @ #90 - we have a Dr. Doolittle at the hospital I'm working at. You should see people's faces when he gets paged.

#101 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 04:21 PM:

abi said (#98):
I once had drinks with a group that included a Londoner, a Geordie (ie, from Newcastle), a lowland Scot (West Lothian), and an Aberdonian. I ran them through the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, and not a one of us pronounced the letter "r" the same way.

And then there's the French "uvular r", and the two different Spanish "r" sounds...

Larry Brennan said (#90):
I really wonder how foreigners cope with the variations of English. I have had several Germans tell me that they struggle with heavy southern and urban African-American accents. They usually confess to feeling guilty about the latter.

I remember two friends in grad school, one from Turkey and the other from Lebanon, telling me about going to a party (within a few months of their arrival in the US) where a visiting Scottish grad student with a strong Glaswegian accent showed up. Neither could understand a word he said.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Peter Erwin... the French "uvular r"

So, that's what it is that I do with my tongue. Sounds naughty.

#103 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Serge -- there are apparently quite a few "uvular consonants" you can play around with. Including "uvular fricatives" (like the "ch" in Scottish "loch" or German "Bach") and the dreaded "uvular ejective"[*] -- the latter not, alas, found in any European languages (at least so far as Wikipedia knows).

[*] Which sounds you ought to need surgery if you're successful.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Let's hear it for the uvular. There's probably a sonnet somewhere in there. But I'll leave that to my betters.

#105 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 06:32 PM:

(#100) Dr Doolittle's there to translate for the animal patients. Dogs have really thick accents you know. ;)

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 07:58 PM:

The surgeon who did my snoring surgery wanted to take out my uvula! There are languages you can't pronounce correctly without a uvula, you dumbshit!

I guess that wouldn't bother some people. But I was absolutely horrified at the possibility.

#107 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:07 PM:

And then there are the people who get their uvulae pierced. (Potential squick alert: yes, the link has photos.)

#108 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:10 PM:

My tonsils and uvula resorbed, but I'm pretty sure I can say loch & Bach properly.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:14 PM:

#107: Thanks for the warning. BOY am I ever not going to look at that.

#108: German 'Bach' is not uvular. It's velar, which is sometimes confused. I'm pretty sure 'loch' doesn't have a uvular sound in it either, but less sure than I am about the German.

In German, sometimes the 'r' is uvular, but never the 'ch'. How to tell: if prolonging the sound doesn't make you sound like you're gargling, it's not uvular.

#110 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:37 PM:

It's fun hearing choral shortcuts for certain sounds-- in my last choir, about half the people had some background in diction, and the other half... guessed, mostly. Given a German word like Bach, we'd hear K, guttural gargling stereotypical German ch-sound like coughing something up, the forward hissy ch I was taught as correct, and SH. 'Gloria' is always pronounced 'Claudia' because otherwise, the weight of the choir turns it icky. Never say an R or an S the way you would when you're alone; the other hundred people will take care of it for you.

#111 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Xopher - I was just about to post the immortal uvular advice of Lorraine Newman, ca. 1976, when I remembered I had already done so about a year and a half ago.

#112 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 09:44 AM:

Listening to people hesitate last night, maybe the sound we use for "er" is actually more like "uhrrh". Thats with Men and Maids of Kent (as opposed to Kentish Men). I don't know if this helps at all.

And I meant my vowels shorten when my accent moves north. (Dahn Sarth - Baarth; Oop North - Baff).

#113 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Xopher said (#109):
#108: German 'Bach' is not uvular. It's velar, which is sometimes confused. I'm pretty sure 'loch' doesn't have a uvular sound in it either, but less sure than I am about the German.

(After bouncing around between various different Wikipedia pages on "voiceless velar fricative," "voiceless uvular fricative," etc., etc.:)
The final consonant of "loch" is supposed to be the same as the German consonant, and in fact both are given as examples of the "voiceless velar fricative." Confusingly, the German word "zach" is also given as an example of the "voiceless uvular fricative," which is what misled me. Fortunately, the "uvular consonant" page comes to the rescue:

The voiceless uvular fricative [χ] is similar to the voiceless velar fricative [x], except that it is articulated on the uvula. It is found instead of [x] in some dialects of German and Arabic.

So you can still speak Scottish and Welsh and (most dialects of) German if you get your uvula removed. (I'm trying to imagine some scenario where the spy is unmasked as an imposter because he had his uvula removed and can't quite get the local accent right...)


Diatryma (#110): it sounds [ha!] like the "forward hissy sound" you're referring to would be a different consonant.[*] You'd use it for German words where the neighboring vowel was a forward sound like "e" or "i" (as in "ich") but not when it's a back vowel like "a" (as in "Bach").

[*] Wikipedia says it's the "voiceless palatal fricative," for those who are dying to know. I would image that it's much harder to get your palate pierced than your uvula, but at this point I'm not sure I want to bet against someone trying it.

#114 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Diatryma #110:

We always pronounced it "glawdia"; the "c" was likely to produce too explosive a sound. "g" was sufficiently gutteral that a hundred or so wouldn't cause something really unusual.

#115 ::: Fortuna ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 01:10 PM:

#113 Still wondering about the fricatives, but even more about the "zach". Where did you get that from? I don't think I've ever seen/heard it before, and can't think of any possible meanings.

#116 ::: Julie L. hears hamsters! ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 03:13 PM:

I'm listening to the East-Coast CBC streaming feed; the interview starts to air about 10-12 minutes into the second hour (~3:10 local time).

#117 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Fortuna (#113): Well, it was listed in the Wikipedia page for voiceless uvular fricative as an example:

German: zach, 'timid'.

But I'll admit that my German dictionary doesn't list it, and neither do a couple of online dictionaries I just looked at. Google searches restricted to German-language pages seem to just turn up names (either the American first name "Zach" or the German last name "Zach"), so now I'm kind of dubious. Maybe it's an obscure dialectical word, or maybe it's nonsense.

Maybe I'll remember to ask around at work tomorrow...

#118 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Umm... that was supposed to be "Fortuna (#115) ..." in reference to my post #113. Time to get some sleep.

#119 ::: Fortuna ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:33 PM:

Peter Erwin (#118): Didn't see it anywhere either but found a really cool website -apparently you type in a word and it tells you if it's a noun or verb or adjective, how common it is, other words that appear in context, and some graph showing the connections... There, "Zach"'s either a last name, or, rarely, a misspelling, dialect, or totally senseless.
And that sentence has entirely too many commas.

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Spam from 218.206.194.247

#121 ::: Raphael sees yet more spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 02:50 AM:

Looks like some kind of "man your battlestations" thing by now.

#122 ::: Pendrift spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2009, 02:31 PM:

with malformed links, natch.

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