A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

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A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Mars80 » 2017-09-18, 23:57

Tuesday, August 2, 2005: "werry" for "worry"

A poll of Americans and Japanese about concern that World War III might occur in their lifetime prompted me to address today's word.
-ORR- is very ambiguous. In a stressed syllable, the vowel is usually seen as broad-A or short-O (borrow, tomorrow, corridor as most people say them) or AU (torrid as most people say it, lorry, abhorred). Only in "worry" (and its derivatives) is ORR pronounced ER or UR.

Since most people rhyme "berry" and "hurry", and ER is the way this sound is most commonly spelled (especially in multitudinous agent words (purchaser) and comparatives (bigger), let's go for the spelling that new learners are more likely to think of when they hear the word spoken: "werry".


http://simplerspelling.tripod.com/arc05-3Q.html

Most people rhyme "berry" and "hurry"? I don't think so. I've never heard anyone pronounce those words to rhyme.

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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Dormouse559 » 2017-09-19, 1:25

They must be thinking of "bury" and "hurry". And even then, I don't know if "most people" rhyme those. As long as we're respelling things, it would be much more accessible to use "wurry", since most people do rhyme "worry" and "hurry".
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Mars80 » 2017-09-20, 1:49

Here's something I've found that the spelling reformer said:

''THIS is the famous "distinction without a difference", except that there are about 4 times as many -erry's as -urry's. And please note that Dictionary gives woor.ee, foor.ee, and hoor.ee (that's the sound that the U with a 'hat' (circumflex accent) shows: short-OO), which I have not heard so regard as bizarre. Either they heard wrong or they're on drugs.''
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* ''Dictionary, oddly, is sometimes just plain wrong. For instance, "water" is not shown there as ever being pronounced "wut.er", but I listened very carefully to reports of water-main breaks on TV stations in the New York Tristate Metropolitan Area (the broadcasting capital of North America), and wut.er is plainly the pronunciation educated people in this area give that word. The SSWD project, of course, cannot offer "water" precisely because it has more than one common pronunciation.''
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* ''If you put together the -erry's and the -ery's pronounced the same, you get a MASS of words with ER as the crucial spelling, but if you try to use -ury rather than -urry, you get a completely different sound. So I think we'll go with -erry. But I appreciate your views. Cheers.''

* Quote-''UR, ER, OR, and AR may be pronounced with tiny differences by SOME speakers in SOME dialects as to SOME words. I went to your URL for the Cambridge dictionary, which offers TWO bizarre transliterations (which may or may not be rendered in standard IPA but is opaque to me -- IPA transliterations tend to proceed from the positions of vocal apparatus of the linguists who speak them in preparing to write them; SSWD is concerned about what people HEAR, and if they hear no difference between, for instance, vaann and venn for French "vin", it doesn't matter to them whether the person saying it forms the word one way, because the listener hears it the same no matter which way a speaker might articulate it). Most to the point, the Cambridge dictionary shows TWO pronunciations, British dialect and American standard.
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* I then went to the Merriam-Webster URLs for the other words and clicked on the speaker icon to listen to the pronunciations rendered, in American English, and found no distinction worth making. All those words would rhyme PERFECTLY as most people regard things. Of course, we could avoid the problem altogether by saying that there are two different pronunciations for "worry", so the word can't be changed!
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* For most ordinary , for whom the SSWD project is intended, not for linguistics specialists, there is between a great many word pairs or groups, no difference worth 'worrying' about. There are a lot of overeducated people who have bugaboos about tiny matters of no consequence, and will argue them endlessly, to everyone else's tedium. I'm not about to argue the linguistic equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, a subject that may have fascinated some medieval theologians but nobody else.
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* The SSWD project is about NEEDED change, and preferably changes that people can readily apply to things they HEAR. One transliteration for a small range of actual sounds is convenient, and all spelling is convention. Few speakers of standard English distinguish in sound between "ferry" and "furry". Having a distinction in spelling for these two HOMONYMS is useful. As to which spelling you favor for a reform of "worry", I have noted that you favor "wurry".
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* The problem may be only that a following-R tends to alter the quality of the vowel before it, for some speakers more than others. I have not yet offered this word (which you plainly render "wurd" and I render "werd") and might select "wurry", on the basis that some people might see it as parallel to "merry", which they pronounce like "Mary". Or I may not offer it at all, since, as some people regard things, it has two pronunciations so cannot be changed if a change would antagonize some significant body of speakers. I am asking for more comments. Cheers.

* Quote- ''YES, I noted that in checking "merge", some dictionaries use the U with a hat as the vowel. But in any case, that is the ER sound, as shown plainly by the sample words in Dictionary.com's own pronunciation key: "urge, term, firm, word, heard".
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* As for "ont", I suggested that because "ant" is a homophone we can eliminate from a language filled to overflowing with homophones, and seems to those of us who say "ont" -- meaning a large proportion of the best-educated people in the U.S. and almost everybody in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, etc. -- that calling a person by a homophone for an insect is arguably disrespectful. I have no power to impose anything, and the SSWD site is designed mainly to make people think. As for "tord", too-waurd is a spelling pronunciation, and as with ev-er-y and other spelling pronunciations (which my Random House Unabridged labels so people know better than to use them), spelling reformers can properly advise people that tho they think they are being careful to be correct, they are actually being wrong.
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* The distinction between "ferry" and "furry" is, I repeat, not "worth making. All those words would rhyme PERFECTLY as most people regard things." People who try to draw needless distinctions and force people to try to supply only one of essentially interchangeable spellings do spelling reform a disservice. This is not the distinction between "merry" rhyming with "berry" and "merry" rhyming with "Mary". It is TRIVIA that ordinary people do not waste time on and cannot justify wasting educational time and money on. If you see a poem in which one line ends with "ferry" and the next appropriate line ends in "furry" or "worry" or "cherry" or "very", will you be startled by an appalling lack of rhyme? If so, you are one in perhaps 15,000 people.
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* Native speakers of English cannot and do not make the short-E as in "bed" and follow it with R in the same syllable and come out with anything like what most people say for "very", "berry", etc. Following-R changes the quality of many vowels in its same syllable.
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* Make all the silly and PRETENTIOUS distinctions you want. Ordinary people concerned with communication rather than language as an arcane study to itself will not trouble to heed you.''

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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Ser » 2017-09-20, 15:44

Okay, so now it's clear he does pronounce ferry and furry the same. That's weird. Is he from Philadelphia? This merger is rare and is, IIRC, traditionally a particular characteristic of the English accent of Philadelphia. Most English speakers in the world do make the distinction, pronouncing ferry as [ˈfɛɹi] and furry as either [ˈf3˞i] or [ˈfʌɹi].

He also thinks "water" has an alternative common pronunciation with the "uh" sound (i.e. /ʌ/), along with the "ah" sound (i.e. /ɑ/). That's beyond bizarre. Where is this guy from?

He is also wrong at the beginning of your second quote when he says that û (u with a circumflex) in the AHD notation refers to the FOOT vowel ("short-OO"). The letter û in AHD notation refers to the NURSE vowel. Also note the AHD actually gives two pronunciations for worry: wûrē (i.e. /ˈw3˞i/ in IPA), wŭrē (i.e. /ˈwʌɹi/ in IPA).
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby linguoboy » 2017-09-20, 17:01

Serafín wrote:He also thinks "water" has an alternative common pronunciation with the "uh" sound (i.e. /ʌ/), along with the "ah" sound (i.e. /ɑ/). That's beyond bizarre.

It is? Most people I know pronounce it with /ʌ/. /ɑ/ sounds British to me.
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Babbsagg » 2017-09-21, 2:06

I thought British standard was /ɔː/?

Just checked what the Wiktionary says, for whatever that's worth:

UK RP: /ˈwɔːtə/
UK dialect: /ˈwɒtə/, /ˈwɒtəɹ/
General American: /ˈwɔtəɹ/
US cot-caught merger, Canada: /ˈwɑtəɹ/
Philadelphia: /ˈwʊtəɹ/
Thank you for correcting mistakes!

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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby linguoboy » 2017-09-21, 2:20

Babbsagg wrote:I thought British standard was /ɔː/?

I didn't say it sounded standard.

In any case, it sure the hell doesn't sound American. I don't know where they get /ˈwɔtəɹ/; I don't know a single person who pronounces it that way.
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Babbsagg » 2017-09-21, 3:01

linguoboy wrote:
Babbsagg wrote:I thought British standard was /ɔː/?

I didn't say it sounded standard.

I see, seems I misunderstood you there.

In any case, it sure the hell doesn't sound American. I don't know where they get /ˈwɔtəɹ/; I don't know a single person who pronounces it that way.

That seemed odd to me too even though I'm not an expert in AmE. I think it doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard anyone say.
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Ser » 2017-09-21, 16:58

linguoboy wrote:In any case, it sure the hell doesn't sound American. I don't know where they get /ˈwɔtəɹ/; I don't know a single person who pronounces it that way.

For what it's worth, I asked on the ZBB-related IRC channel, and ZBB user Whimemsz (who is from Texas) says he uses /ɑ/, and that although he might have heard people say it with /ʌ/, /ɑ/ is "definitely the norm" in the US. Smaug/patiku (from New York) says he uses /ɑ/ but he's heard the word with /ʌ/ from his relatives in Iowa. (Nobody else responded to my question usefully. ObsequiousNewt, incidentally from Iowa, says he can't tell what vowel he has there.)
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby Dormouse559 » 2017-09-21, 17:39

I use, and am used to hearing, /ɑ/ out here in California.
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Re: A spelling reformer proposed that "worry" be respelled "werry".

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-10-04, 6:23

I use /ɑ/ in the first syllable of water as well. I can't recall a time when I've heard /ʌ/ there instead.


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