[DWJ] Which syllable do you stress in "Chrestomanci"?

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 11:36:56 EDT 2011

On Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 4:57 AM, <deborah.dwj at suberic.net> wrote:

> Ehsan wrote:
>  Thanks to the list, I now no longer have any idea how I pronounce
>> anything!
> My friend who is a linguist says that people are terrible reporters of our
> own speech patterns. Apparently when you compare self-reported speech
> patterns to actual recorded speech, there's a fairly noticeable gap.
> Although the conversation we had was in context of word usage, and possibly
> with pronunciation it's a little bit different.
> -deborah, who says COR-a-lary
 I wonder how much of that is because--it seems to me--stress is kind of a
binary way of expressing something that isn't just yes or no.  When I was
studying Japanese, I remember being encouraged to think of Japanese as a
language without stressed syllables, which is an oversimplification, but was
for me a tremendously useful way to conceptialize while learning.  Stress
involves some mix of emphasis and timing and intonation.  When I say these
words the BE way they come from a place closer to my nose than they do when
I say them in my native American way, and on some of them the vowels open up
like a car on a straight road and settle into the back of my throat, and I
realize that I'm sounding southern (my accent is fairly standard US
midwestern-ish, with the occasional southern moment as I'm from both a place
and a family where these accents mix).  My father has a stronger southern
accent than I do, and pronounces words that start with w with that hw sound
(hwhite, for example), and I drop my yods much more than he does (he would
say the word "lute" to rhyme with "cute," whereas I say it "loot").  I think
British speakers in general seem to drop and clip sounds more than
Americans, who seem to have a greater devotion to pronouncing every letter
in a word, even where you might think it would be silent, though both
British and American are so broad as to cover a range of dialects, and I've
never even been to Australia, which is why I don't really dare venture much
of an opinion on those accents, though I've known too many Australians who
sounded wildly different to assume that an Australian accent is single
thing, either.

Stuff like this always makes me think of Connie Willis' Bellwether--what
starts language trends?  I think there are several modern phrases you can
specifically trace back to a single influential person or group--the rise of
"where's it at?" over the last ten years certainly owes something to a Boost
Mobile marketing campaign here, though they didn't start it; the use of the
word "fighting!" in South Korea and Japan to mean something along the lines
of "do your best" comes directly from a now-defunct Korean mobile phone
provider's ad campaign during the 2002 World Cup.  I hate the hw sound
(search youtube for the "Cool Whip" scene from Family Guy), and I remember
being told off by classmates at my Massachusetts college for sounding
southern, which is to say, sounding uneducated and stupid, as someone from
Boston assured me, with a straight face (see: John F. Kennedy, or Matt Damon
in "Good Will Hunting")

As for Chrestomanci: isn't ci chi in Italian?  so if it is Italian,
shouldn't it be Chres-to-man-chi?  I would say it with the accent towards
the first syllable, but if I was talking about a science/magic thing called
chrestomancy, I feel like the stress would shift a little, kind of like it
does from permit (v.) to permit (n.) or record/record--though maybe it's
just that the initial K sound I would say less forcefully if it wasn't
capitalized?  I've now said these words so many times to myself that I'm not
sure any more :)


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