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On 19/08/2011 4.02, Tim Mensch wrote:
On 8/18/2011 9:09 AM, steve donovan wrote:
Also, 'ophal' is not _pronounced_ like 'offal'; by the usual rules of
English pronunciation, the 'o' will be long, not short.  That is, it
sounds like 'oh-fal', not 'offl'.

Sorry, but the rules for English pronunciation that I learned are that a
vowel makes a long sound when followed, either immediately or one letter
later, by another vowel. Otherwise it's a short sound. Like in
"otherwise".  Ostritch, oscillate, and others follow the same pattern.

Note "open", with the e, makes the long "o" sound. I'm coming up short
on other examples, but I promise you that's the way I learned the rule,
and that it's only really common short words ("or", "only", etc.) that
break the rules.

Name it what you want. I just have a hard time letting misleading
statements stand.


Sorry, but I doubt there are "strong" pronunciation rules (as those of standard Italian or High German). Then you should consider at least the differences between British and American English.

Quoting from my (paper) copy of Webster's New World Dictionay, 3rd college edition (dictonary of American english), at page xii of the "guide to the Dictionary", section II - Pronunciation:

"The pronounciation given in this dictionary are those widely used by good speakers of American English. Many words of the language occur in everyday speech and in newscasts, talks or discussions on radio or television, and in spoken recordings. Good speakers do not always pronounce these words in the same way. Because the various pronunciations are widely used by good speakers, however, the pronunciations must be considered as acceptable pronunciations.

To decide decide which pronunciations are most commonly in use by good speakers, the editors of this dictionary have for many years maintained a file of written transcriptions of pronunciations that they have heard or that they themselves use. The file is supplemented by pronunciation queries made to individuals in the sciences and in other specialized fields, so as to determine the pronunciations of terms that do not occur often in everyday speech. In addition, all available works on the pronunciation of English have been carefully studied and evaluated."

I guess there are similar explanations on the "standard" dictionaries for British English (Oxford and Cambridge) (I haven't a copy ready now to quote).

Lexicography and linguistics is not so simple as they seem when they teach "rules" at school. (Some friends of mine _are_ lexicographers, and I worked as a developer way ago on linguistic software).

Human languages are far more flexible than computer languages, and the only langauge that doesn't change and has no variants is a dead language (classic Latin - i.e. Ceasar's Latin - is an example, which is widely different from the ecclesiastic Latin currently used by the Catholic church, which is more based on the medieval Latin!) or is a language spoken in a very geographically restricted region.

-- Lorenzo