Wednesday, February 05, 2014

shone, shined, and a digression re dictionaries

This post is getting so out-of-hand long that I'm going to put in section headings. You can take the academic to the blog, but you can't make her brief.

pronouncing shone

I had an interesting Difference of the Day (what I do on Twitter) request, regarding the pronunciation of shone, the past tense and past participle of shine. To cut to the chase: the standard pronunciation of shone in AmE rhymes with bone and the usual pronunciation in BrE  rhymes with on. (We have to keep in mind here that British pronunciations of the on vowel are different from American ones. It's not a vowel sound that American English has; I've discussed it before here.) 

Tracing the history of pronunciations is difficult, but one of the ways it's done is to look at rhymes in poetry. So if you're lucky enough to find a shone at the end of a line, you might learn something. What it looks like to me is that the pronunciation of the word has only gradually come to be uniform (if indeed it is) in the two countries. 

For instance, Englishman William Cowper way back in the 18th century was rhyming shone with alone:
No voice divine the storm allayed, No light propitious shone; When, snatched from all effectual aid, We perished, each alone: - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19364#sthash.PqsOl5fd.dpuf
No voice divine the storm allayed,
    No light propitious shone;
When, snatched from all effectual aid,
    We perished: each alone:
In an appendix to his dictionary of 1780, Sheridan gives a list of "rules to be observed by the Natives of Ireland in order to attain a just Pronunciation of English", which includes pronouncing shone as 'shon' rather than 'shoon'.  (His preface on the general decline in the pronunciation of English since the court of Queen Anne is rather precious.) 

So around the same time we have English Cowper saying shoan, Irishman-in-England elocutionist Sheridan saying shon and the rest of the Irish, as Sheridan would have it, saying shoon. It's in those kinds of instances that I'm not too surprised to find that American and British pronunciation have standardi{s/z}ed in different directions.

shined v shone

What about shined? The 'authorities' will tell you that the past form of the intransitive verb is shone (The sun shone bright) but the transitive verb is shined (She shined her shoes). But there's plenty of evidence that people have been saying both shined and shone for the intransitive for a long time-- in the simple past tense (It shone/shined bright) more than the participle (It has shone/shined bright). Motivated Grammar has a nice blog post on this, so I won't repeat all the history.  What I will say is that America has moved toward shined more decisively than the UK has. I searched for shined bright and shone bright in the Corpus of Global Web-Based English (GloWBE), and found that BrE preferred shone 20:1, whereas AmE had almost as many shineds (4) as shones (5). 

and a digression on dictionaries

Back to the tweets that started this all:
No voice divine the storm allayed, No light propitious shone; When, snatched from all effectual aid, We perished, each alone: - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19364#sthash.PqsOl5fd.dpuf




I was interested in the implication that dictionaries are not covering the pronunciations very well. So, I (BrE) had/(AmE) took a look.

In the 'covers only their own nation's pronunciation' camp, we have:
UK: The Oxford English Dictionary ("Pa. tense and pple. shone /ʃɒn/") and  Chambers.
US:  American Heritage and New Oxford American Dictionary

In the 'provides no pronunciation guide for the past tense' category, we have:
UK: Oxford Dictionary of English.
US: n/a (but see below)

It's a bit weird for a UK dictionary not to list the pronunciation, since the UK pronunciation does not follow English spelling conventions; that is, the silent E (my daughter's learning to call it 'bossy E' at school) after a single consonant should signal that the preceding vowel is 'long'. Such irregular pronunciations are the kind of thing that people need explicit information about. Shone here is like another -one verb form gone, which rhymes with 'on' in both AmE and BrE. But we can't really call that a regular pattern: they come from very different base verbs (go, shine), and while shone is a simple past tense form, gone is only a participle (which is to say; The sun shone but it didn't gone). [And then there's done, which has another vowel sound altogether.] The only other '-one' word I can think of with an 'on' pronunciation is scone, and that's only for about 2/3 of British speakers. An aberrant spelling-pronunciation association like that should really be mentioned in a dictionary. 

And in the 'helpfully provides both and tells you the difference' category, we have:
UK: Collins
US: Merriam-Webster and Random House (both the hard copy of RH Webster's College Dictionary and the version you can see at dictionary.com)

Contrary to my list above, @fanf in his tweet claims Webster makes no mention of it, and he's half right (assuming he was looking at Merriam-Webster; keep in mind that the Webster name is not a trademark, so anyone can use it).  M-W provides no pronunciation guidance on their page for shone, except to provide a list of rhyming words that starts with blown. But on their page for shine they give "\ˈshōn, especially Canada & British ˈshän\. The clickable audio file just gives the American pronunciation.

A central problem for lexicographers (dictionary writers) has always been: what to put in and what to leave out. The number of things one can say about a word has no real limits, and when one starts to take into consideration variant pronunciations, it could get ridiculous. This is less a problem in the electronic age than it was when one needed to keep dictionaries affordable (and liftable) in the printed form. So, print dictionaries tend to have entries for shone that just point you to shine. They don't tend to give pronunciations at such cross-references and they don't tend to spell out the pronunciation of every tensed form of every verb. In the electronic age, the limits on dictionary contents are more limited by labo(u)r costs and time than by space (although formatting a lot of information on the web in a user-friendly way is another problem), and so what we mostly have online are entries that were written and formatted in the days of print-only. So, I humbly point out irregular verb forms as things that might be afforded greater lexicographic attention in electronic dictionaries.

Something I'd like you to notice above is the range of variation in the dictionaries published by Oxford University Press. You might find the same for other publishers if you look. But the point I want to make here is: there is no such thing as the Dictionary and there is no such thing as the Oxford Dictionary. Every title and most every edition has different information. (I had a little rant about this at The Catalyst Club in November, and I'll be ranting about it again soon in The Skeptic.) So, if you don't find the information you need in one dictionary, look in another. If you don't understand one, try another.

(But a little grumpiness about Oxford Dictionaries website: The 'on' pronunciation is the only one listed in on the page that's called "British and World Englishes" and the 'bone' pronunciation is the only one at "US English". As if US English is not an English of the world.)

Oxford (AmE baseball metaphor) steps up to the plate in their dictionary for learners. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, like other learner-orient(at)ed dictionaries (Cambridge, Longman) has good recordings of both pronunciations.  (Macmillan is an odd one. You can't get to the pronunciation through the dictionary entry, but by googling 'Macmillan pronunciation shone' it takes you to an American pronunciation page; no equivalent page for British.) So another moral of the dictionary story: if you want clear information about your language, sometimes it's good to seek out the dictionaries for second-language learners.

and a bit of shameless self-promotion

Yes, it's been a long time since I've blogged. I've now declared Tuesday evenings "Blog Evenings", but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll see a weekly post here since (a) I'll be blogging for some other sites, and (b) long things like this take me more than an evening. But I'm hoping I'll at least have more posts here in spring than I had in autumn (my deadly semester). 

But if you're interested in the kinds of things I do here, you may also be interested in some of the other ways that I'm doing those things.  

Upcoming talks (all welcome; follow links for more info):
In print:
This year I'm writing a series of short pieces on British idioms for Focus magazine (for expats in the UK). Follow the link for more info. (The one with teacups on the cover also has a little linguistic autobiography of me.)  I'll also be writing for The Skeptic (at least once, maybe twice) this year.

In the classroom:
Since GCSE/A-level students are typically too young for the pub-based talks I tend to do, I'm taking the material into English Language classrooms in southeastern England. (I'd be happy to take it further afield, but you'd have to pay for my travel!)  The first outing is to a sixth-form college in March, where we'll look (a bit!) at how American and British English got to be different, how they affect each other now, how this gets distorted in the media, as well as what it's like to do English Language/Linguistics (BrE) at university. So, teachers, let me know if this might interest you and your school/college (see email link in the right margin). Parents and students, let your teachers know. (And Americans, if you want translations for some of that educational jargon, see this old post.)

78 comments:

John Cowan said...

In AusE, I'm told, gone has a unique phoneme: it's /gɔːn/, whereas THOUGHT words have short /ɔ/. In AusE, length matters: cup and carp are /kap/ and /kaːp/ respectively (there is no /ɑ/).

Geoffrey said...

And then there's shown, which Americans pronounce the same as shone.

David Crosbie said...

John Wells in his Longman Pronunciation Dictionary lists:

shone ʃɔn ║ ʃoʊn (*)

By that last symbol John means:

'RP and GenAm differ in an unpredictable and important way'

Anonymous said...

In your example "The sun shone/shined bright", "bright" complements the verb and should be in the adverbial form "brightly".

Paul Clapham said...

American has moved towards "shined" rather than "shone"... but on the other hand it tends to retain "dove" rather than "dived". At least that's been my experience as a non-native speaker of AmE (moved here when I was seven).

David Crosbie said...

Anonymous

"The sun shone/shined bright", "bright" complements the verb and should be in the adverbial form "brightly".

This argument has been utterly discredited and demolished by David Crystal in his posting On a not very bright grammar test.

Anonymous said...

Gone/on is a pretty weak rhyme in MyE, and I think for most AmE speakers who lack the low back merger.

n0aaa said...

She's been too long gone,
but when she showed, she shone...

Matt said...

I (American) have to admit that I prefer shined and dived to shone and dove. That makes me wonder if there is a general tendency in American English to drift from the concept of strong verbs (in the Germanic sense). Is there any academic research regarding this?

vp said...

King James Bible Isaiah 9:2:

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

So "shined" was used for the intransitive perfect tense in the early 17th century.

vp said...

The KJB seems to use "shined" consistently for the past participle, and both "shined" and "shone" for the past tense (randomly, as far as I can tell).

vp said...

@Paul Clapham:

Actually "dived" is the earlier form, and "dove" an innovation (probably on the model of "drive"/"drove").

vp said...

@Anonymous:

Gone/on is a pretty weak rhyme in MyE, and I think for most AmE speakers who lack the low back merger.


I thought that, in cot/caught split AmE, both "gone" and "on" typically rhymed with "dawn". Which one does not, for you?

Anonymous said...

@vp: "gone" is [O] ("caught" vowel) and "on" is [A] ("cot" vowel).

starwefter said...

THANK. YOU. GOD!

I have run into nothing but "shined" lately, for both transitive and intransitive forms, both verbally and in print, to the point where I was beginning to think that shone must be simply an archaic form that had been retained in my area as a regionalism, because I have always said, as you point out, "he shined the shoes" but "the shoes shone brightly after being polished" and to hear it otherwise has always gone badly "clunk!" in my head. I really wish I had examples I could link to, but unfortunately, I don't -- I can only tell you that I heard it years ago on a radio advertisement, that I saw it in a book far more recently, and that I've run into it various times in between. I know I've heard "shined" used so often though in place of shone that over 10 years ago I looked it up in a dictionary to make sure it was a word, and was proper English, instead of a word like "ain't" -- but it was a rather outdated dictionary and I couldn't trust it for reflecting current usage.

I feel far more confident now of my usage, having it explained. I'm going back now to read the rest of the article; I got derailed by seeing that "shone" actually existed and was correct.

starwefter said...

Let me amend that to say that shone is one of the correct usages.

(Because I'm using OpenID, I either can't delete and repost my commment with editing, or possibly just can't figure out how to do so.)

But since I'm adding stuff, I think I actually pronounce shone and shown slightly differently -- the best I can describe it is that there is a slight hesitation in the latter, as though it was sho'one for lack of a better way to put it..... Not quite show-un but not quite the same, either. Gah, regional variations.......

Wordgeek said...

I was a bit distracted when I saw that the original tweet was by my fiancé! Nevertheless I did manage to pay attention to the rest of the article :-)

Katherine Barber said...

Canadians, as one of your dictionaries mentioned, rhyme "shone" with "gone", and are usually a little taken aback when they hear Americans rhyme it with "own". In the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (of which I was editor-in-chief) we did list the pronunciation of "shone", although in general in the second edition we didn't list pronunciations that adult native speakers could be expected to know, now matter how weird their relationship (or lack of it) to the spelling. This was a space-saving measure. As you mentioned, ESL dictionaries are more informative on these matters. As for Oxford Dictionaries' bizarre category of "World English", I often had arguments about that when I worked for OUP, as if British English for that matter was not part of World English. But at least they don't do what the OUP bookshop in Oxford did (and still may do): classify their Australian and Canadian English dictionaries in with "bilingual dictionaries"!

Dru said...

I have to admit (Br Eng speaker over 60) that I have never heard anyone pronounce 'shone' any other way than 'shon'. Even the electronic dictionary on my computer, of US origin, only gives that pronunciation.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone use 'shined' when the verb is intransitive, though I think I may have heard 'shone' used when the verb was transitive. I also think I've heard 'shined' used as an adjectival passive participle as in 'well shined shoes'.

To me 'gone' and 'on' are perfect rhymes. I can remember, though, some old fashioned people 50 years + ago who would have said either 'gawn' or 'gahn'.

David Crosbie said...

Lynne

The 'authorities' will tell you that the past form of the intransitive verb is shone (The sun shone bright) but the transitive verb is shined (She shined her shoes).

Well, yes and no. In my speech (late 60's, British) there two different transitive uses:

1. She shined her shoes.
2. She shone her light.

I'd forgotten about this until I looked up shine in my Collins COBUILD Dictionary. No pronunciation of shone, alas, but lots of other information — all selected and ordered by statistical analysis of a huge database.

OK, my copy is an old first edition and doesn't pretend to cover American English. But I trust it to reflect what is the most common British usage — or at least was most common in the recent past. And they state that only the shine your shoes sense has Past form shined.

By the way, I think I know why so many dictionaries are so sparing with pronunciation information. Most people (in Britain at least) use dictionaries essentially for two purposes:

1. to check a spelling

2. to win an argument with a definition that's in the dictionary

Anonymous said...

As a speaker of Canadian English, I agree wholehearterdly with Katherine Barber. Around our house, "shone" rhymes with "gone".

The sun has shone
But now it's gone

Dick Hartzell said...

About deducing the way "shone" was pronounced in the 18th century by looking at Cowper's rhymes:

I recall learning in an English lit class long ago that poets sometimes exploit "eye rhymes" (rhyming words like gone and done that look as if they should rhyme when in reality they obviously don't) as a cheat when they're unable to achieve the "ear rhyme" they'd prefer.

Is there any way to determine whether Cowper was cheating here?

Matt said...

As an American, shone (a word I rarely use) would rhyme with own and not gone. However, that begs the question of how the rhyming word is actually pronounced. If I were to rhyme shone with gone, then shone would be identical in sound to the male name Sean. Is that true for British (and I guess Canadian) speakers?

mollymooly said...

The North Wind and the Sun is in the 'Handbook of the International Phonetic Association' translated into many languages and transcribed phonetically. The Wikipedia article I link to suggests, and someone with a copy of the Handbook can confirm or refute, that the American English text has "the Sun shined out warmly", whereas the British English text has "the Sun shone out warmly".

vp said...

@mollymooly:

The American English version certainly has "shined", as this Google Books link shows (hope it works for everyone).

lynneguist said...

As I mention in the post, the vowel in 'shone' is not one that American English has. So, it won't rhyme with American 'gone' or 'on'--it rhymes with British 'gone', not American 'gone'. It doesn't rhyme with BrE 'Sean', which has a rounder vowel. In the part of England I'm in speakers pronounce 'Sean' sounds like 'shorn', but, of course, they don't pronounce the 'r' in 'shorn'. This is why the Aardman people named their protagonist 'Shaun the Sheep'. It's a joke in BrE that generally goes unrecognized in AmE.

So, if you're an American wanting to get an idea of these sounds, I recommend clicking on the learner dictionary links in the post and listening to the pronunciations (e.g. compare 'shone' with 'gone' and 'shorn'). I don't recommend trying to rhyme them with words the way you say them.

David Crosbie said...

mollymooy, vp

The previous 1949 Principle of the International Phonetics Association employed a different strategy.

The transcriptions of 'one variety of Souther British used ʃon for 'broad transcription', ʃɔn for 'narrower transcription' and ʃɒn for 'still narrower transcription'. For 'Scottish' they used ʃɔn.

For 'one variety of American' they used bəˈgan tə ʃaɪn.

starwefter said...

One of the problems, of course, with saying Americans pronounce such and such to rhyme with so and so is that Americans in one area don't speak quite the same way as they do in another, any more than the people from London sound quite like the ones from Liverpool, even though both speak with British accents.

Kate Bunting said...

A mailing list I belong to has recently been discussing the pronunciation of "sloth", which Brits generally rhyme with "both" and Americans with "moth". I found a poem by Ben Jonson in which all three of those words are used as rhymes!
I once heard an Irishman say on the radio that Sean (the Irish form of John) was derived from the French Jean and pronounced in Ireland more like "Shahn" than the "Shawn" used in England.

David Crosbie said...

mollymooly

The American English version certainly has "shined",

But there's no British "shone" because there's no British English version. The 1949 Principles had the fable in 51 languages. The 1999 Handbook has much more description, but the texts are in only 29 languages.

David Crosbie said...

Many (perhaps all) of the 1949 IPA transcriptions of The North Wind and the Sun were recorded in the 1950's, and are being made available at this site.

The American speaker read from the British English text and pronounced shone as SHOWN.

Rachel Ganz said...

@Dick Hartzell

HIghly unlikely I know, but is it also not possible that Cowper pronounced alone as "alon".

Canadian said...

Matt - For me, a Canadian, shone does indeed rhyme with gone and Sean.

I had no idea before reading this post that shone could be pronounced any other way.

David Crosbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Crosbie said...

vp,

The KJB seems to use "shined" consistently for the past participle, and both "shined" and "shone" for the past tense (randomly, as far as I can tell).

In the nativity story of Luke 2, it has 'and the glory of the Lord shone round about them' (cf and glory shone around in the carol While Shepherds Watched). This is one of the KJB texts that have been recorded by David Crystal in 'original pronunciation' (available to download from his website). His decision was to pronounce shone with a 'short O' (rhyming with on) for speech around 1611 — when some America Colonies were already established.

He could be wrong, but that doesn't usually happen.

Autolycus said...

I think it must say something about either my attentiveness or Hollywood scriptwriters' vocabulary that in a lifetime of watching American films and TV I never noticed the "shown" pronunciation (incidentally, whence the habit of official BrE of using "shewn" - as in "all tickets must be shewn"..?)

Until barely a week ago when I had to ask myself if a singer on TV really was singing "shown" for "shone"; and now, thanks to your blog, I know.

vp said...

@David Crosbie:

According to Dobson's "English Pronunciation 1500-1700", "shone" is found with both the long vowel of GOAT and the short vowel of LOT in the mid-17th-century orthoepists. The Middle English form had the long vowel.

Anonymous said...

@ vp: The word on is famously variable in the US (well, at least among Americans). The pronunciation with the vowel of box is northern. The pronunciation with the vowel of law is midland and southern. Another possibility in the South is on = own. There is a map here on PDF p. 5 which shows "the ON line". It's from Prof. Bill Labov's upenn web page.

Robert

Anonymous said...

* a map here

Robert

Warsaw Will said...

What you were saying about learner's dictionaries goes for usage notes as well. And they also tend to have a much richer selection of example sentences. Unless a word is very obscure I always go to OALD before Oxford Online. But then I am an EFL teacher.

Joanna said...

When I read the title of your blog, I thought immediately of the thing that has bugged me recently while listening to several news presenters on BBC and writers of newspaper articles. Whether in headlines or the body of an article they are unfailingly using the word 'strived' as past tense for the verb 'to strive'. I did not know if this was a difference in BrE and AmE so I looked it up and found that my way would be correct. I have never heard this tense of the word misused by anyone educated in the US. (I've been in the UK for 12 yrs.)

After reading your very interesting article, one question keeps nagging at me, given the BrE pronunciation of 'shone', do people who know the proper form of the other verb pronounce its past tense with that same vowel sound?

Thank you very much for your interesting blog!

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

How do Americans pronounce "dove" as the past tense of "dive"? Is it like the bird, or like Dover without the final syllable? My parents' current dog is called Dover, and often "Doves" for short, with the "o" vowel as in Dover!

One of my grandmothers always said "gorn" and "clorth" and similar, but it was obsolescent even in my young day, and now, I suspect, completely obsolete.

The name "Sean" here is often spelt "Shaun" or "Shawn" (I know a very nice one!), which gives a clue as to its pronunciation - no confusion with "shone" or even "shown" possible!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Redboots -
Dover.

Dru said...

Br Eng speaker over 60 again, the past tense of 'strive' is 'strove' and the participle 'striven'. 'Strived' is bad grammar. If presenters and newspaper writers are saying/writing so, that doesn't make it right. That's my opinion anyway.

vp said...

@Dru:

FWIW, "strived" occurs in both William Shakespeare and the King James Bible.

Canadian said...

Mrs Redboots - Here Sean can also be spelled Shawn or Shaun — makes no difference, still rhymes with shone (but not shown). I guess I'm not understanding how else to pronounce Sean! What does it rhyme with for you?

David Crosbie said...

Canadian

I guess I'm not understanding how else to pronounce Sean!

There are as many ways of pronouncing it as there are accents of Irish English. For all I know, they may sound recognisably the same between speakers of different accents. However, outsiders' ears have at times come to the name and interpreted particular local pronunciation in terms or their owns accent in English.

For most Irish pronunciations, most outsiders have heard the THOUGHT vowel, and a minority have adopted the spelling Shaun. Other minorities have heard different vowels and used different spellings. (There's a list in Wikipedia, which may or may not be accurate in detail.) Against this tendency is the fact that the name has a standard spelling in Irish (Gaelic).

The most spectacular difference is the pronunciation found in Ulster which has sounded to outsiders like Shane and has been spelled accordingly.

In England, I have heard of parents calling a boy Sean pronounced the same as seen and scene.

Whether this is at all common I just don't know.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

To Canadian: I would pronounce it to rhyme with "horn" (as in "Shorn"), but you have to remember that I speak a non-rhotic version of English (i.e. I do not pronounce the "r" in such words), which makes a difference. And, not being Irish (although married to one!) I probably don't hear the slight difference in vowel sounds that would be blatantly obvious to someone who grew up with them.

Kate Bunting said...

Joanna and Dru,
I've heard a speaker on the radio say "weaved" recently too. Pure ignorance, in my opinion.
Autolycus,
My late father always insisted that "shew" was the correct spelling for the verb. However, my dictionary calls it an "archaic variant" of "show".

John Cowan said...

It's not quite true that Americans don't have the BrE LOT vowel [ɒ]; many do, but they use it for THOUGHT words (lowering them) rather than for LOT words. Doing so is, in a way, the first step toward the THOUGHT-LOT merger, which then becomes just a matter of unrounding [ɒ] to [ɑ]. (In BrE there is also a difference of length, but not in AmE.)

Shew is the direct descendant of Old English sceawan, whereas show is derived from a variant pronunciation. Until about 1700, shew took the GOOSE vowel and show the GOAT vowel, but since about 1850 the pronunciations have merged.

David Crosbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Crosbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Crosbie said...

John Cowan

It's not quite true that Americans don't have the BrE LOT vowel

Yes, but they have their own LOT vowel. And they use it in gone. So not to use it in shone is not really a question of accent.

Yes, it's a different vowel quality, which we Southern Brits may hear as SHARN and GARN, but that's a story for this other thread

vp said...

@David Crosbie: It doesn't affect your point, but AmE "gone" has the vowel of THOUGHT rather than LOT for most speakers who make the distinction (76%, according to LPD's 1993 poll).

David Crosbie said...

vp

but AmE "gone" has the vowel of THOUGHT rather than LOT for most speakers who make the distinction

A strangle echo of British GAWN, a pronunciation I've only heard in ironic use, but which my relatively old edition of the English Pronouncing Dictionary gives as a less frequent variant in RP.

David Crosbie said...

To my surprise, John Wells lists both GAWN and GAHN as British non-RP pronunciations of gone.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

As I said up-thread, one of my grandmothers said "gorn" or "gawn", quite unironically.

It was also the old cockney pronunciation (sometimes the upper classes and the cockneys weren't as far apart as they thought they were!), as witnessed by the old song:
"My biby 'as gorn dahn the plug'ole...."

Lyrics here

John Cowan said...

In effect gone is a CLOTH word; that is, it is merged with THOUGHT in AmE, whether or not THOUGHT = PALM.

David Crosbie said...

John Cowan

In effect gone is a CLOTH word

I wondered about that. What does 'in effect' mean here? Is gone basically a LOT word migrated to CLOTH? Or was it basically a CLOTH word all along? Does this cast any light on the history of shone?

vp said...

@David Crosbie:

As you probably are aware, pretty much all CLOTH words were originally LOT words, just as (nearly) all BATH words were originally TRAP words.

In addition, there's always been a large number of words that vary between LOT and CLOTH in AmE -- for example, those followed by a velar. (Again, one could draw a parallel with certain BATH-TRAP words in southern British English, such as "transfer").

David Crosbie said...

As I've said before, Collins COBUILD is my favourite dictionary for some purposes. I certainly prefer it to other learners' dictionaries such as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. (Sorry, Warsaw Willie!) I've just discovered their free online version. Their treatment of shine is interesting.

Provided that you select British English, you'll get a decent stripped-down version of the non-free paper dictionary, supported with sound recordings of shine, shines, shining, shined, shone. And if you search for shone, you'll get all this plus a sound file for American pronunciation.

However, if you select American English, a search for shine will give less information. It lacks the sense of shine your shoes for example. And their sound file for shone sounds like SHAHN.

The American aspect clearly needs more work. The British side is quite impressive for something that's entirely free. Mostly it offers the same as the paper dictionary with fewer examples and less grammatical/semantic information. A more serious omission is the shined~shone distinction outlined in the book version.

David Crosbie said...

And their sound file for shone sounds like SHAHN.

Do they have a super-intelligent robot following this blog? Minutes after I posted the above, I returned to the COBUILD site to find the sound file for AmE shone replaced with something sensible.

mollymooly said...

The Irish-English pronunciation of Sean depends in part on the Irish-Gaelic pronunciation of Seán. In Irish-Gaelic, the lexical set of the vowel varies between the nominative "Seán" and the genitive "Sheáin"; the realisation of the vowel further varies between different dialects of Irish.

Then you might want to map your Irish-Gaelic vowels onto the closest-approximating Irish-English vowels; these vowels vary markedly between Ulster and points further south. So which English-vowel lexical-set you end up with depends.

John Cowan said...

David Crosbie: I say "in effect" because the sound-change that split LOT and CLOTH generally operated before /θ/, /f/, /s/ (like BATH) or /g/, but not /n/, so gone is not a "real" CLOTH word. But it does behave analogously, now that CLOTH = LOT in all accents except Northeastern and Southern U.S.

David Crosbie said...

John Cowan.

Thanks John. It was a genuine question, one that hoped for an answer. Something else to classify as 'unpredictable and important'.

All the same, it can't be associated with the unpredictable and important history of shone.

Robert said...

Not to be a pedant, but LOT only = CLOTH in North American accents with the low back merger. All North American accents with a low back distinction have the "LOT-CLOTH split".

Kevin Flynn said...

With apologies for deviating somewhat from the main word in question (but, at the time that the incident occurred, my mind went back to this discussion) I was astonished the other day to hear an American academic (in the context of 18th-century attitudes to bestiality -- don't ask!) refer to a female pig as a /soʊ/ (rhymes with "so").

Finding it hard to believe that this can possibly be a common pronunciation in the US I put it down to the speaker's alienation from her rural roots.

David Crosbie said...

More on COBUILD

I failed to notice before that a 'radio button' flips between British English COBUILD and American English COBUILD.

The latter does not list

5. verb

If you shine a wooden, leather, or metal object, you make it bright by rubbing or polishing it. ⇒ [v n]
Let him dust and shine the furniture.

Is this not a common sense of shine in American English?

It also supplies that sound file allegedly of ʃəʊn (=like SHOWN) but to my ears sounding more like SHAHN. A sound file for alone seems to be by the same speaker, and matches the transcription aləʊn.

I really seems as if the actor recording the file for shone was copying the British pronunciation with an American vowel quality to the 'short O'. Does that mean that there are a number of American speakers who don't use the GOAT vowel in shone? Or was the actor somehow confused because she was working for a British publishing house?

Ironically, the British entry gives an 'authentic' American pronunciation from a different (male) actor.

That said, I still think it's a super free dictionary for foreign learners. And comparisons between BrE and AmE are really easy once you get the hang of its working.

lynneguist said...

That omission in the AmE COBUILD is odd. We certainly shine shoes. For other things (furniture, jewel(le)ry), 'polish' would be more natural, but I don't think I'd blink at 'shine'.

David Crosbie said...

Lynne

And would you be more likely to, say I shined my shoes than I shined my flashlight? Or indeed could you say I shone my shoes?

lynneguist said...

No, shoes are shined.

John Cowan said...

Robert: I think we are saying the same thing: the Northeastern and Southern U.S. accents are precisely those with no back vowel merger, so THOUGHT=CLOTH is different from LOT. In all other accents, CLOTH=LOT whether the same as THOUGHT (the rest of North America) or different (everywhere else).

Anonymous said...

American here. Shined seems like present tense to me in a weird way.

biochemist said...

I (BrE) would shine my shoes and a torch but for the past tense I think it the torch would be shone (because it emits light), shoes shined (i.e. made to appear shiny).
Re Kevin Flynn's comment about the vowel in 'sow': in BrE it rhymes with 'cow', always, I believe.... however 30 years ago I went to Plymouth Plantation (ultra-authentic reconstruction of the earliest English settlement outside Boston USA). Here the on-site 'settlers' had been intensively trained to speak in 16-17th century English, and I remember still that I was shown the sty in which a sow and her piglets lived - it was pronounced 'soo', and I giggled!
In parallel, in the UK we have a word for 'nothing' that I cannot pronounce. The written dictionary version is naught or nought, pronounced to rhyme with thought, but when used colloquially it can be pronounced (and written) as nowt or note. The former will rhyme with clout.
'I have note/nowt against this idea' 'We went shopping and came back with nowt'
I think it probably depends on which part of (northern) England the speaker is from.

biochemist said...

I (BrE) would shine my shoes and a torch but for the past tense I think it the torch would be shone (because it emits light), shoes shined (i.e. made to appear shiny).
Re Kevin Flynn's comment about the vowel in 'sow': in BrE it rhymes with 'cow', always, I believe.... however 30 years ago I went to Plymouth Plantation (ultra-authentic reconstruction of the earliest English settlement outside Boston USA). Here the on-site 'settlers' had been intensively trained to speak in 16-17th century English, and I remember still that I was shown the sty in which a sow and her piglets lived - it was pronounced 'soo', and I giggled!
In parallel, in the UK we have a word for 'nothing' that I cannot pronounce. The written dictionary version is naught or nought, pronounced to rhyme with thought, but when used colloquially it can be pronounced (and written) as nowt or note. The former will rhyme with clout.
'I have note/nowt against this idea' 'We went shopping and came back with nowt'
I think it probably depends on which part of (northern) England the speaker is from.

Katherine Barber, Tours en l'air said...

Further to this, the NYTimes posted on its facebook page a link to an article, with the intro saying that it "shined a light" on the situation at schools in Brooklyn. This elicited the following comments:
Kris Wetherholt I expect better of you, NYT..."shined" should be "shone"...
Rob Ponte Uh... shone is not a word... It's not the 1850s.

Steph Lewis said...

BrE & I find it strange to think of BrE as being non-rhotic of which I am inferencing means not doing what I call "burring the r" in AmE.

Although I have heard (particular "posh" i.e RP usage & south east England) completely flat pronunciations of words like "car" (which then rhymes with "cah") this is mostly in my opinion to do with the long "a" sound which can turn "grass" into "grarss" & "bath" into "barth". Thus the long "a" makes the "r" sound almost irrelevant as to fit the "r" with the long "a" would require some tongue yoga...caaaaarrrrrr. As they already say the "a" aaaaar they don't need the extra rrrr.

I am a half Welsh half German army brat so not "typical" however I speak with the short "a" sound and a lot of dropped "h" & glottal stopped "t".

There is a distinct difference in my pronounciation (which may not be typical but I have heard it a number of times in BrE) particularly where a short "a" would be used where such speakers do pronounce the "r".

I admit it is not the same "burring" of the "r" I notice in a variety of AmE accents but to me "cah" and "car" have completely differently pronunciations as I definitely use an "r" in car! My "a" is the same as ah, so with no rrr I would just say cah!

However this doesn't seem to carry over to other vowels (I have said a few aloud to check!) And Sean is to me the same as Shawn and shorn.

Shone gone & on also rhyme perfectly as does won gun one.

Did anyone else automatically think "shine bright like a diamond"? ��

David Crosbie said...

Steph Lewis

BrE & I find it strange to think of BrE as being non-rhotic of which I am inferencing means not doing what I call "burring the r" in AmE.

No, Steph, that's not at all what it means. It's not the quality of the R-sound — it's the presence or absence.

If in your accent calmer sound the same as karma and taught us sound the same as tortoise, then your accent is non-rhotic. If the words in each pair sound the same, then your accent is rhotic.

Briefly, if the spelling has a vowel letter followed by a letter-R:

• People with rhotic accents pronounce some sort of R-sound every time.

• People with non-rhotic accents don't pronounce any sort R-sound — with two exceptions:
1. if there's a vowel sound immediately after in the word
2. if the R-spelling is at the end of the word and there's a vowel sound immediately after in the next word

In non-rhotic accents the correspondences are
SPELLING..................SOUND
AR...............................ah
ER/IR/UR....................like German ö
OR..............................aw

Not all British accents are non-rhotic. Irish and Scottish accents are rhotic. In England, the West Country accents and some Lancashire accents are rhotic. Most Welsh accents are rhotic, but not all.

And not all American accents are rhotic, although most are. Non-rhotic accents are concentrated in the great seaports of the Eastern Seaboard.

There are many different R-sounds in the rhotic accents, but each accent has its own R-sound in shorn. Mrs Redboots, like me and like many people in England, Australia, new Zealand, South Africa etc, doesn't pronounce any sort of R-sound in shorn, which is why for many (perhaps all) of us it sounds exactly the same as Sean.

You wrote
And Sean is to me the same as Shawn and shorn.
That means that your accent is unquestionably non-rhotic.