Sunday 25 November 2018

'Genealogy' - you say 'tomato', I say 'tomato'. Rules and variations in English.

I asked on twitter how people pronounce 'genealogy'. Do people pronounce the middle syllable like the name 'Al' or as 'oll'? It split about 50:50 across several hundred. Some simply said that they pronounced it in one of the two ways. Some gave the 'rule' that 'explained' why they pronounced it their way.

The 'Al' rule is that the person was pronouncing it the way it's written. The 'oll' rule is that the person was pronouncing it according to the 'ology' rule. 

'Pronouncing it the way it's written' is a highly problematic thing to say about anything in English because syllables often have at least two ways of being pronounced - often more - and this one is clearly another. 

Meanwhile, saying that a word should be pronounced a certain way "because analogous words with the same Greek-in-origin suffix but spelled differently" is hardly a 'rule'. 

So, I think we're left with 'variation'. Some say 'al' and some say 'ol'. Fine by me.