[Smt-talk] Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (was Looking for bad text settings)

JAY RAHN jayrahn at rogers.com
Mon Aug 25 05:36:40 PDT 2014

Of course, one has to be aware of regional, social and cultural differences in pronunciation. I recall being perplexed in childhood by the then non-obvious (to me) humour in the following children’s chant:

                                                                I scream,
                                                                You scream,
                                                                We all scream
                                                                For ice cream.

To my young Canadian ears it was an unsuccessful attempt at a pun, ineffective with regard to both vowel length and syllable stress.
As for syllable stress in particular, many folks in the UK and North America differ with regard to the syllables they stress in the following nouns (single quotation marks precede stressed vowels):
                                                                c’ontroversy / contr’oversy
                                                                t’elevision / telev’ision
                                                                adv’ertisement / advert’isement
                                                                g’arage / gar’age
                                                                r’esearch / res’earch
                                                                s’ubsidence  / subs’idence
                                                                s’ubmarine / submar’ine
and adjectives:
                                                                cl’andestine /cland’estine
                                                                c’ommunal / comm’unal
Cf. the British Library’s pronunciation project:
Whereas 'Yellow Submarine' and 'I'm a Little Dutch Girl' (a.k.a. 'Girl Guide, Girl Guide') are the only lyrics I know that include one of the above words, a worthwhile exercise for Justin’s students might be for them to notate, perform and record a version of George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ with both members of the above pairs in stress contrast.
Jay Rahn, York University (Toronto)
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