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so many consonants in a row esp. in songs

GUEST,leeneia 05 Jun 10 - 06:51 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 10 - 07:43 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 10 - 08:46 PM
Rapparee 05 Jun 10 - 08:55 PM
Joe_F 05 Jun 10 - 10:04 PM
mousethief 05 Jun 10 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Jun 10 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 05 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM
katlaughing 05 Jun 10 - 11:15 PM
Dave MacKenzie 06 Jun 10 - 03:42 AM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jun 10 - 04:43 AM
s&r 06 Jun 10 - 04:53 AM
gnomad 06 Jun 10 - 06:51 AM
Tug the Cox 06 Jun 10 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Jun 10 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Neil D 06 Jun 10 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 06 Jun 10 - 02:00 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Jun 10 - 02:34 PM
Joe_F 06 Jun 10 - 06:13 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jun 10 - 06:47 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Jun 10 - 07:00 PM
Ebbie 06 Jun 10 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Jun 10 - 10:03 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Jun 10 - 10:32 PM
Tangledwood 06 Jun 10 - 11:24 PM
Tangledwood 06 Jun 10 - 11:25 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Jun 10 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Jun 10 - 08:55 AM
Wolfgang 07 Jun 10 - 12:59 PM
Howard Jones 07 Jun 10 - 02:32 PM
PoppaGator 07 Jun 10 - 03:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Jun 10 - 04:22 PM
Richard Mellish 07 Jun 10 - 05:05 PM
Joe_F 07 Jun 10 - 05:33 PM
Anne Lister 07 Jun 10 - 05:34 PM
Nigel Parsons 07 Jun 10 - 06:01 PM
Tangledwood 08 Jun 10 - 03:20 AM
gnomad 08 Jun 10 - 05:39 AM
Dave the Gnome 08 Jun 10 - 05:47 AM
Morris-ey 08 Jun 10 - 06:01 AM
Anne Lister 08 Jun 10 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jun 10 - 09:33 AM
Cool Beans 08 Jun 10 - 09:33 AM
Dave the Gnome 08 Jun 10 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jun 10 - 10:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Jun 10 - 10:54 AM
Dave the Gnome 08 Jun 10 - 11:08 AM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Jun 10 - 11:45 AM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Jun 10 - 12:29 PM
Marje 08 Jun 10 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jun 10 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 08 Jun 10 - 02:33 PM
Anne Lister 08 Jun 10 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jun 10 - 06:58 PM
Doug Chadwick 09 Jun 10 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,leeneia 09 Jun 10 - 10:21 AM
Tug the Cox 09 Jun 10 - 11:43 AM
Uncle_DaveO 09 Jun 10 - 04:45 PM
Dave MacKenzie 09 Jun 10 - 06:47 PM
Tug the Cox 09 Jun 10 - 08:31 PM
GUEST,leeneia 09 Jun 10 - 11:47 PM
GUEST 10 Jun 10 - 02:39 AM
Dave the Gnome 10 Jun 10 - 04:25 AM
Marje 10 Jun 10 - 04:27 AM
theleveller 10 Jun 10 - 04:41 AM
mousethief 11 Jun 10 - 01:43 AM
Dave MacKenzie 11 Jun 10 - 03:20 AM
3'Shift 11 Jun 10 - 04:30 AM
Nigel Parsons 11 Jun 10 - 06:55 AM
Mr Red 11 Jun 10 - 06:57 AM
Marje 11 Jun 10 - 01:47 PM
Cool Beans 11 Jun 10 - 02:08 PM
Joe_F 11 Jun 10 - 06:20 PM
Tangledwood 11 Jun 10 - 07:10 PM
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Subject: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 06:51 PM

On another thread, we've been talking about the word 'washrag.' YOu know, it's basically a ridiculous word. It's the shr combination that does it.

Well, my sister used to be on the switchboard of a place where she handled maybe 200 calls a day. One day she asked my sister-in-law, who teaches English as a second language, how better to handle calls from foreigners, especially Asians.

The teacher explained that many other languages do not put consonants together the way we do. Thus, an Asian caller might not be able to handle the name 'Strong,' and will say Stong or even Song.

About the same time, I joined a church with quite a few people who never learned to read very well. I'd been used to churches where you simply put a hymn in front of people and assumed everybody could read it, no matter how involved the lyrics got. No more.

That caused me to be aware of lyrics, etc, that have too many consonants in a row. For example, one day I was looking at a hymn that said God will 'smite death's threatening wave.'

Consider the middle of that phrase. '...th'sthr...' Funniest thing, our Chinese pianist does not sing along! (Well, actually, I edited it out before church.)

Another example caught my eye recently: glimpsed. '...mpsd...' What a mouthful!

Recently there was a thread on what the folk process is. For me, part of folk process is getting rid of these lumpy, unsingable clumps of consonant.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 07:43 PM

A group of oranges complaining about their maltreatment in Georgian:

gvprtskvni

http://www.armazi.demon.co.uk/georgian/files/the_consonants.htm


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 08:46 PM

An example that makes even that Georgian one look simple: look up the Wikipedia page on Salishan languages, Nuxálk in particular. These languages are polysynthetic and there is a single Nuxálk word meaning "he had had a bunchberry plant" with 13 consonants and no vowels. (Needs letters you just can't write on Mudcat).

Nuxalk song


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Rapparee
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 08:55 PM

Sounds like German to Mark Twain and me:

Alterthumswissenschaften.
Kinderbewahrungsanstalten.
Unabhaengigkeitserklaerungen.
Wiedererstellungbestrebungen.
Waffenstillstandsunterhandlunge

I don't think you'll get very far with your campaign to reform the English language; others, from Melvil Dewey to G. B. Shaw, have tried. But good luck with it.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 10:04 PM

English is sort of in the middle in its toleration of consonant clusters. Certainly, it is way ahead of Chinese, as you my observe while enjoying dim sum and hearing the waitress struggle with "shrimp". On the other hand, a Russian can pronounce "vstrechat'", "mgnovenie", or "svoistv" without stopping for breath.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: mousethief
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 10:08 PM

Perhaps vowels were invented when one of our linguistic forbears actually did stop for breath?


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 11:00 PM

Sorry, Rapaire, Your German words are long, but they are merely simple words run together. The longest consonant cluster there is 'str.'

I'm not trying to reform English, just trying to get people to notice clusters and perhaps think about them when dealing with songs and poetry.

Joe F, I agree with you about us being in the middle. Those Russian words are remarkable.

About 'shrimp.' When I moved south, I was surprised to learn that many southern Americans pronouce it 'srimp.'


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM

thrift shop

ftsh


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 11:15 PM

I thought this was going to about the Welsh language.:-)


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 03:42 AM

Written Welsh appears to have strings of consonants for two main reasons - firstly w and y are vowels, and secondly "ch", "dd", "rh" etc are treated as a single letter in the Welsh alphabet. In practice, Welsh often has less consonants than English, eg "ffatri" (3) = factory (4).


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 04:43 AM

The opening post pointed out the possible effects of clumps of consonants on written lyrics for those who do not have English as a first language. I have never considered it before but it can see that it might be important when selecting songs to be sung by people from diverse backgrounds.

The thread does not have a BS prefix. Surely it does not deserve to be relegated below the line? I think "GUEST, leenia" has made a valid point worthy of discussion in the music section.

DC


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: s&r
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 04:53 AM

sixth string xthstr
first string rststr

Stu


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: gnomad
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:51 AM

I was told long ago that the longest English consonant string in an actual word (though admittedly one originally made by joining two together) is Knightsbridge.

I've no idea whether that is correct, but I have kept an eye open ever since without beating it.

Rapaire's German words are similarly produced by running together other words, but that is a feature of the German tongue. I used to know a word which (IIRC) translated as "Member of the union for officers of coal powered steam vessels" but I can't remember it, and don't want to drift the thread too far BS-wards.

As to the mission to simplify, I would have to consider that a while. I can understand the desire to make a language available to all, but to me the beauty of languages lies in the very complexities of the different tongues. Half the joy of appreciating a language (or a style of music) lies in the detail. How to reconcile that with simplification?


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 08:53 AM

From Pyrgic puzzles in this saturday'#s Guardian....a flower with 6 consecutive consonants..
eSCHSCHoltzia.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 09:29 AM

Doug, I agree that this thread belongs above the line.

Stu, your 'sixth string' was brilliant. Likewise, Tug, 'eschscholtizia.' Beats my 'glimpsed.' (Have you ever noticed that we actually say 'glimpst'?)

Gnomad, I know what you're saying about language, but when it comes to church, it is sad to hear a person stop singing, probably feeling excluded and embarrassed, because the lyrics turned into a thicket. This is particularly the case when the lyrics were merely mediocre Victorian sentiments to begin with.

Congratulations on 'Knightsbridge,' especially if we become Chaucerian and pronounce the 'gh' as German 'ch,' which is probably what Chaucer did.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 12:42 PM

I know this is a non-English surname and not really germane to this thread, but does anyone remember a basketball player for the Temple Owls named Bill Mlkvy. His nickname was "The Owl Without a Vowel".


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 02:00 PM

No, I don't remember him, but I do remember my neighbors in Independence MO, the Tvrdyks.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 02:34 PM

There are certain sets of consonants that give away their language roots, even when you find them in English or maybe French and so on. Not talking here about combinations which pick up groups from two separate words run together.

STR, SPR, STL, SPL, SCHTR, SCHTL, SCHP, SCHPR, SCHPL, and some others that I don't recall right now, come to us from the Teutonic languages (like German), almost always. (I was being careful, there, to say "almost", so as not to get shot down if there were found to be an exception, which I don't expect to happen.)

---
For what it's worth, one of my favorite multiple-consonant words is from Greek: "phthisis". My guess is that "phth", wherever found, is from Greek.


Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Joe_F
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:13 PM

IIRC, Benjamin Lee Whorf claimed that the longest consonant cluster (phonetic, not spelling) in an English word was mpftst in "Thou triumphedst". I doubt, however, if it has ever actually been spoken that way.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 06:47 PM

I used to know a word which (IIRC)....

IIRC, Benjamin Lee Whorf .......



I'm sorry to divert from the subject but, as it's been used twice in this thread, it must have a meaning. What on earth does "IIRC" stand for?   

..... or is it just an attempt to put four consonants together, in which case, IIRCZYXPQTVKD to you!

DC


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 07:00 PM

If I Remember Correctly . . .


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 08:13 PM

lol, DC


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 10:03 PM

So, you're partial to 'phthsis', Uncle Dave? Good.

Here's a similar word which tickles my fancy:

chthonic
Pronunciation: \ˈthä-nik\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Greek chthon-, chthôn earth — more at humble
: of or relating to the underworld : infernal

Joe, your "Thou triumphedst" is incredible, though I have to agree I doubt if anybody has ever said it.

Today I chanced upon the combo 'triumph shall', and I thought that was a mouthful, but it takes a poor second place to "Thou triumphedst".


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 10:32 PM

I have a distinct memory (and that "distinct" is a tricky one, isn't it?) of finding "surprise" quite difficult when I was learning to read. It definitely was that clump of consonants in the middle.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Tangledwood
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 11:24 PM

For me, part of folk process is getting rid of these lumpy, unsingable clumps of consonants

If they are unsingable how have the songs' lyrics survived unchanged for generations?

Granted many words in the English language present problems for those people with a different language background (and Americans ), but part of becoming assimilated into a new home is learning the language. Doing it in song would seem like an ideal opportunity for the church to help with education.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: Tangledwood
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 11:25 PM

(and Americans ),

there was supposed to be a smile after that but it disappeared.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 08:42 AM

Q. If they are unsingable how have the songs' lyrics survived unchanged for generations?

A. I suggest you start browsing at the Cyberhymnal and observe how many good tunes and good concepts have been written and then forgotten because of awkward lyrics.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 08:55 AM

Desert Dancer, I know what you mean about 'surprise.' When I was a kid, I never was sure how to spell it. Did it have an r in front of the p or not?

I think most people actually say 'sup-prise'.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row (in hymnals etc.)
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 12:59 PM

Once upon a time there was a competition for the German word with the longest uninterrupted succession of consonants. The winning word, composed of a word coming from the Russian language and an Austrian word, was

Borschtschgschnas.
(short interruption for cleaning the screen from the spit that came from my attempt to actually pronounce the word)

But then, Germans also can compose the word

Ioaue

which means a wet meadow on a Jupiter moon.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row (in hymnals etc.)
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 02:32 PM

leenia, that may be how people pronounce "surprise" where you live, but where I come from it's "sir-prise". A little further north from where I now live, in Lancashire, I believe they'd really sound out the first "r". So would a south-west (English) accent.

This is the problem with proposals to spell English phonetically - whose phonetics should we use?


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: PoppaGator
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 03:18 PM

"...does anyone remember a basketball player for the Temple Owls named Bill Mlkvy. His nickname was "The Owl Without a Vowel"."

There was a fairly prominent baseball player several years ago (a member of the Minnesota Twins) named Kent Hrbek. His nickname was "Buy A Vowel" (as in "Kent Buy-A-Vowel Hrbek").

Explanation, if necessary, for those outside the USA: The phrase is one commonly spoken by contestants on the popular syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune."


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 04:22 PM

My name's a good one for consonents in a row - seven letters and only one vowel.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:05 PM

Some of the examples are really much simpler than they appear: they have multiple consonant-letters but less actual sounds. For example, in "phthisis", there are only two "consonant" sounds together. The "ph" could be replaced by "f",and the "th" by the old letter thorn, giving "fþisis", with only two letters together.

I agree that "Thou triumphedst" is unlikely to have been pronounced as its spelling would imply. The same usually goes for other combinations such as "next step". As the "x" already represents two sounds, it could come out as "nekststep" but in fact is usually "nekstep".

Richard


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:33 PM

There is a Russian song (translated from Polish, actually) that contains the line

Marsh, marsh vperyod (= March, march forward)

It must have been hard to keep in step while articulating rsh-vp.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Anne Lister
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:34 PM

There is a perfectly good phonetics alphabet, used in dictionaries, so it's only complicated to explain pronunciation if you use bits of "normal" spelling associated with the way you yourself speak, as others may not share that spelling associated with that sound.
A lot of the consonant clusters are simpler than they look, and very few people pronounce every letter in every word when speaking English. I do remember having a bit of innocent fun when teaching English to see how hard it was for speakers of other languages to STOP pronouncing "wasps" or "crisps", as the "sps" tended to continue repeatedly.
However after learning (and teaching) French, German and Welsh I'd dispute that English is any more difficult ... and that's before we get on to some African languages, some Indian languages, Dutch, Russian, Finnish and so on.
As to the way we say "glimpsed" - that's not a mistake of any kind, that's the way we say it. There are quite a few past tenses where the same thing applies. And spelling rules are not pronunciation rules of any kind, after all.
But yes, one of the skills of writing sing-able songs is making sure they can be sung. Not necessarily by speakers of other languages, though!


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 06:01 PM

Gnomad:
I was told long ago that the longest English consonant string in an actual word (though admittedly one originally made by joining two together) is Knightsbridge.

That's a string of 6 consonants consecutively, in a word you admit is a construct.
rhythms has 7 and is a word in general use. Admittedly the 'y' seems to be being used as a vowel, but by most definitions it beats Knightsbridge.
Knightsbridge can also be equalled by "catchphrase"

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Tangledwood
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 03:20 AM

Q. If they are unsingable how have the songs' lyrics survived unchanged for generations?

A. I suggest you start browsing at the Cyberhymnal and observe how many good tunes and good concepts have been written and then forgotten because of awkward lyrics.


Ah, I misunderstood. I thought some of the congregation were having problems with songs currently in use.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: gnomad
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 05:39 AM

Thank you, Nigel, my quest for another 6-consonant string is ended.

6 without a conjunction, or 7 anyone? I think we must discount rhythms as it uses the ambiguous vowel/non-vowel status of Y.

Reverting to the main theme, I feel I must continue my support for complexity.

I sympathise with those for whom their participation in the service is restricted by their ability to read/pronounce certain words, but it seems to me that this is a near-ideal chance for them to develop those abilities. They have the words in front of them and numerous people around them (presumably encouraging and non-judgemental people) giving their own pronunciation of the words, and the novice can join in at will. There are even repeats in many pieces. Where else will these opportunities be provided outside a formal learning environment, which may not be available to everyone?

Singing well written songs along with native-speakers seems to me a very effective way to develop pronunciation, vocabulary, and general feel for any language, quite apart from any religious or social inclusion which will result.

Oh, and thanks too to Doug, I thought I was probably the last person on the net to learn what IIRC meant. I don't like many of the bits of "netspeak" I have learned, but that one seems too useful to ignore.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 05:47 AM

Archchronicler, catchphrase, eschscholtzia, latchstring, lengthsman, and postphthisic each have six consonants in a row. Borschts has six consonants in a row in just one syllable. Words with five consecutive consonants include angstrom, angsts, birthplace, dumbstruck, eighths, heartthrob, lengths, postscript, strengths, thumbscrew, twelfths, warmths, and witchcraft.

The longest word without a vowel is Twyndyllyngs which, although being Welsh and meaning 'twin', is in the OED.

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Morris-ey
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 06:01 AM

Syzygy would'nt count given the "Ys" presumably


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Anne Lister
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 08:52 AM

And, DeG, as you well know, Welsh vowels include w and y, so Twyndyllyngs doesn't really count!


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 09:33 AM

I sympathise with those for whom their participation in the service is restricted by their ability to read/pronounce certain words, but it seems to me that this is a near-ideal chance for them to develop those abilities."

Church is a place where people should be able to forget the demands of the material world and search for inner peace. People who never learned to read right or who are in a foreign land get enough day-to-day frustration without coming to church and finding that they cannot join the others in song.

Those who point out that 'ph' (to name one example) is only one sound are ignoring the needs of poor readers, who find themselves wondering what to do with the p in 'tchphr'. (That's the middle of 'catchphrase.' We seem to get getting more poor readers all the time, so...

Editing out these unpronounceable clusters is not something I do often, because they don't occur often. Most people instinctively avoid them.
=============
Dave, thanks for your list. McGrath, how right you are!


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Cool Beans
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 09:33 AM

Even a simple double consonant can throw some folks. On the radio here in Detroit there's a commercial for Airlines Parking, a parking lot near the airport. Easy enough, yet the announcer leaves out the "L" and says "Airines Parking." Similarly, a weather forecaster on the same station signs off as "Meteorolist.." so-and-so.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 09:43 AM

Quite right Anne - but when it is in the OED I don't think we can apply the rules of Welsh!


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 10:49 AM

Besides, who can resist bragging about a name like 'Twyndyllyngs'?

Cool Beans, that's interesting about the radio station in Detroit.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 10:54 AM

When I was a wee tad, in Minnesota in the middle '30s, the teacher taught us that "The vowels are A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y and W".
No problem, to me.
Actually, thinking about how words are really pronounced, it seems to me that Y is always a vowel sound, and that W is only a consonant when used (as in German) to represent a V sound. I suppose one could quibble that usually those letters are actually diphthongs, not vowels as such, but that seems to me to be splitting hairs.
Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 11:08 AM

I think you are right with the Y, Dave, even to the extent that you can subsitute an I for the same sound in all cases I can think of - Even iacht or iak :-) Not that sure abour W though - It is pronounced ooer rather that oo when used in words like woods. Which gives rise to how that word came about - Could you use wwd using Welsh rules? :-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 11:45 AM

As I understand W, it is pronounced not "ooer" but "ooh-uh". I've never heard an R sound included as part of the W sound's pronunciation.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 12:29 PM

"ooer" - Wasn't that Frankie Howard's catchphrase? "w" in English gets described as a bilabial semivowel.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Marje
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 01:20 PM

If you want a consonsant-light language you need to look at Romance languages like Spanish and Italian. Everyday English is closer to the Germanic languages, which are characterised by bundles of consonants between the vowels.

That's why many singers love singing in Italian - they don't have to worry about tripping over clusters of consonants. To my ears, many opera singers ignore most of the consonants in whatever language they're singing, in order to be able to make a beautiful sound on the vowels. In folk singing, we know better, and don't want to lose the meaning, so we try to keep the pronunciation close to speech.

Even in speech, most speakers do smooth out the bumps somewhat. For example, most people don't pronounce all the letters in "first step" but say something like "firs tep". The same thing tends to happen in singing, although you often have more time to spend on a syllable and can thus get all the sounds in more easily than you could in speech.

I don't see how English could be permanently changed in a consistent way to avoid this, but good lyricists (and Anon is often a good lyricist) can usually manage to avoid too many clumsy logjams of letters. The example above, "smite death's threatening wave" is needlessly messy. And what does it mean anyway? Does it mean that death is like a wave on the sea, or that death is waving to you in a threatening way? In either case, can one smite a wave? There's no excuse for bad, ugly writing like that, either in hymnals or anywhere else.

I sympathise with people whose first language is one that is very different from English, but English has evolved this way for good reasons and we can't change it now. What song writers can do is to write singable words, avoiding clumsy mouthfuls of consonants, and as leenia says, folk singers can tweak any awkward words to make them more singable. (There's an ugly phrase - "awkward words". Don't put that in a song!)

Marje


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 02:11 PM

Well said, Marje.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 02:33 PM

thunderstruck

You could argue that the 'e' isn't even prounounced. That gives us drstr

You can sing this to the tune of 'Lollipop.' I believe that was one of Patience & Prudence's greatest hits.

Thunderstruck, thunderstruck, oh thunder, thunderstruck...

Then when you get to the verses, compose something about his truck. I could, but I don't have the time.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Anne Lister
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 03:20 PM

To return, briefly, to the Welsh - if it's in the OED it should also come provided with its own phonetics.
I made the point some time back that it's part of the job and skill of a songwriter to write songs that are singable. And if you have people in a choir (church or otherwise) who are challenged by (a) reading or (b) pronunciation then there's a good case for choosing the songs or hymns with greater care and possibly providing phonetic assistance to enable everyone to participate. I don't think, though, that there's any case at all for altering a language to suit the needs of those individuals! (And what kind of song includes the word "catchphrase", anyway?!)
I also made the point, as have others, that we don't usually pronounce words exactly as they're written in any case, and that's part of the learning process for anyone acquiring language skills. That's not only true of English in all Anglophone countries but also true of other languages. I took part in a workshop last year on singing some Easter songs in Welsh - part of the process was learning to pronounce the words, as well as learning the melody and the harmonies.   I knew the rules of Welsh pronunciation, but there were times when there were variations to suit the melody. It was hard work, but there's nothing wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 10 - 06:58 PM

We have a popular cartoon called 'Dilbert.' There's a lazy guy named Wally in the strip, and recently Wally was the focal point for a day. He was in a meeting, and the boss asked him for a report on work he'd done. Of course Wally hadn't done any work.

Wally jerks upright and thinks to himself "Time to disagree with an argument that hasn't been raised!"

And that's what a number of people are doing here - arguing with a point that hasn't been raised. Namely, nobody has argued that we should (or could) alter the entire English language. This thread is about altering lyrics to suit the people who are going to sing them.

It's also about having fun by submitting catchphrases which are also mouthfuls.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 02:52 AM

I don't want to turn this thread in the direction of the long and over-debated discussion on the rights and wrongs of singing from song sheets, but surely, after a few times of singing, people should be familiar with the sound of the words and the song sheet should become more of a crib sheet. So clumps of consonants should have less effect as the song becomes more well known.

If the song is being sung for the first time, could it be that people are unfamiliar with the tune, even if they can read all the words, and may not sing out as you hoped? If it is a borrowed tune, do the new words fit as well as the lyricist thinks? Do some words, which by chance happen to have clumps of consonants, have a rather clumsy fit with the melody.

I know several good musicians who say that they can't sing. Perhaps the Chinese pianist who won't sing along is embarrassed about his/her voice or is just concentrating on playing the piano.

Thinking about these things, I don't think that clumps of consonants play such a big part.


DC


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 10:21 AM

You're not Lutheran, I'd wager. We don't sing things a few times. Lutherans are expected to handle a vast quantity of music, to be able (almost) to sight read, and to sing songs they've never heard before. Getting the lyrics is taken for granted.

My husband, a Catholic, came home from choir after several years and said "I'm beginning to think that someday I will be able to look at a line of notes and figure out how the music is supposed to go."

I told him that someday he might qualify to become a Lutheran.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 11:43 AM

Uncle dave said
it seems to me that Y is always a vowel sound,

as in yonder yellow yacht ?


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 04:45 PM

Tug the Cox:

That's exactly right. Each of those Ys is a brief ee sound, fading into the following vowel.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 06:47 PM

In other words another semivowel.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 08:31 PM

Medial and final 'y's are always vowels, ( i) and (ee).
The frontal y is not a vowel, as the air passage is constricted.
from the guide to English pronunciation...consonants

y"
        

emulate yes senior you
        

The "y" sound that leads into a vowel.

It leads into, but isn't, a vowel.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Jun 10 - 11:47 PM

That's interesting Dave. I never thought of y as an ee sound before.

I once read a book about English which claimed that r could be a semivowel too. I think there's something in that.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 02:39 AM

It doesn't have to be many consonants. Every Christmas I am unsure whether the people around me are going to sing 'Cherubim' with a hard or soft 'Ch'. My classics teacher always insisted on 'kerubim'


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 04:25 AM

I have problems with the 'ch' sound - People often think I have said I am alergic to some types of trees instead of some types of cheese! I usualy overcome it by saying sheese instead but I didn't spot one which led to a good mondegreen. On singing 'Skipper Jan Rebek' some years back (In a pub in Wales oddly enough) someone asked why said skipper was 'King of the fighting ducks'. He should be king of the fighting Dutch of course:-)

I am happier with the German or Scottish version of church as well! Anyway, back to consistants and bowels...

Cheers (Shears?)

DeG


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Marje
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 04:27 AM

I don't think I've ever heard "Kerubim" before. It's the plural of "Cherub", which no one pronounces with a K sound in English. My dictionary says it's a "ch" sound.
I think your classics teacher is getting mixed up with Italian pronunciation (e.g. Cherubini), but Cherub(im) is a Hebrew word.

"Y" is easily heard as an "ee" sound when it's the final letter, e.g. in words like ivy, ready, slowly, etc. At the beginning of a word it generally functions as a consonant.

"R" and "L" are both classified as "liquid" sounds, which can sometimes be almost vowels - or almost omitted - and at other times are very distinct consonants. It's all to do with where they come in the sequence of sounds (and to some extent the accent of the speaker).

Marje


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Jun 10 - 04:41 AM

""R" and "L" are both classified as "liquid" sounds, which can sometimes be almost vowels "

As in the Yorkshire joke:

Q: What's t'most common owl?
A: Teat-owl

I'l get me coat.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 01:43 AM

Cherub(im) is a Hebrew word.

But there is no "ch" sound in Hebrew. It would be a hard "kh" as in "loch" or "Sprechen Sie deutsch?"


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 03:20 AM

English 'ch' being spelt more appropriately 'tsch' in German.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: 3'Shift
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 04:30 AM

I am a very minimal French speaker who loves traditional Cajun and likes Québécois stuff, and even if one can read music/French I imagine almost anyone has to learn most of that repertoire by listening to those who know it. Every language elides much more than its speakers realize, and most of them have dialects that are precious near incomprehensible to them who only know the standard.

My personal solution is that when I hit a bunch of nasty consonants together in a French phrase I just swallow the "excess" ones and keep the beat. (When I have a look to see what the Cajuns did with it, sonofagun, that's just what they already did. All you have to do is exile a large Anglophone community to somewhere that'll keep us isolated, deprived & so busy surviving that we have no time, money or use for formal education, and in a couple hundred years we'll produce your phonetic neo-standard English for you.) OK, now you French Purists, Cajun Nationalists, whoever, go ahead & jump me ... ;)   

And we Americans are fairly stubborn about the way we feel like pronouncing some things - How many people do you know who say "Expresso" when the written word, right in front of them, is plainly (& more simply) "Espresso"? And how many people call the second month "Febuary" although they've seen it with two "R"s on a calendar their life long?

BTW, I think the Hebrew equates to "Keruvim".


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:55 AM

Cherub & seraph, both lovely words for angels, with multiple vaild plurals. Cherubs & seraphs, cherubim & seraphim, cherubin & seraphin.

Just thought I'd throw that into the mix!

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Mr Red
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:57 AM

part of folk process is getting rid of these lumpy, unsingable clumps of consonant.

er --- a little aliterative allegory is allowable in all jovial jokey juxtapositional lexicographical lyrics.

Surely............
{:-)}}}



I know I know - that's easy for me to say.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Marje
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 01:47 PM

Go on then Red, set it to music!

Marje


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Cool Beans
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 02:08 PM

I've always liked the word phenolphthalein, ever since I saw it at a dentist's office and noticed its five consonants in a row. I have never tried to use it in a song.


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Joe_F
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:20 PM

CB: But (in English) four of them are silent!


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Subject: RE: so many consonants in a row esp. in songs
From: Tangledwood
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 07:10 PM

phenolphthalein, - I have never tried to use it in a song.

So how do you identify acid rock?


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