Friends of Semantic Compositions

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April 06, 2004


language hat

I'm not sure what the problem is with JYLES. It doesn't indicate "two syllables of primary stress" but a single syllable, and the whole point of the J is to eliminate the possibility of using a "hard g," which is how I thought the name was pronounced when I was a wee lad (and how some unkind persons have suggested John Barth must have thought it was said when he created "Giles Goat-Boy"). As for IPA in the high schools, we can worry about that when they've succeeded in inculcating a few basic ideas about language (eg, "language is what people say, not what's in the grammar book").

Semantic Compositions

You're right that in their notation, "JYLES" is only one syllable; they use "-" as a syllabification symbol. But I think that when they put something in uppercase, they indicate that it's meant to be stressed, so if read literally, they're saying it ought to be pronounced as though the "les" part is the same as the first name of "Les Paul". Which would make it two syllables.

My objection to the "j" is that we don't have a whole lot of "jy" strings in English orthography. A search for that in Webster's reveals just 7 cases, none of which are common: benjy, jylland, jyngine, jynx, jyvaskyla, takhtadjy and thujyl. So if the idea behind the transcriptions is to use familiar/obvious examples, it at least fails on the familiarity part.


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