Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 189
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 189
 
apparently lags behind 7 as 6, centuries earlier, lagged behind 7.
  9. Some time before 1550 the long e of fet (written feet) took the position that had been vacated by the old long i, now diphthongized (see 7), i.e., e took the higher tongue position of i. Our (and Shakespeare’s) “long e” is, then, phonetically the same as the old long i. Feet now rhymed with the old write and the present beat.
  10. About the same time the long o of fot (written foot) took the position that had been vacated by the old long u, now diphthongized (see 8), i.e., o took the higher tongue position of u. Our (and Shakespeare’s) “long oo” is phonetically the same as the old long u. Foot now rhymed with the old out and the present boot. To summarize 7 to 10, Shakespeare pronounced meis, mous, fit, fut, of which meis and mous would affect our ears as a rather “mincing” rendering of our present mice and mouse, fit would sound practically identical with (but probably a bit more “drawled” than) our present feet, while foot, rhyming with boot, would now be set down as “broad Scotch.”
  11. Gradually the first vowel of the diphthong in mice (see 7) was retracted and lowered in position. The resulting diphthong now varies in different English dialects, but ai (i.e., a of father, but shorter, + short i) may be taken as a fairly accurate rendering of its average quality. 9 What we now call the “long i” (of words like ride, bite, mice) is, of course, an ai-diphthong. Mice is now pronounced mais.
  12. Analogously to 11, the first vowel of the diphthong in mouse (see 8) was unrounded and lowered in position. The resulting diphthong may be phonetically rendered au, though it too varies considerably according
Note 9.  At least in America. [back]

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