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lieutenant

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lieutenant

Postby call_copse » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:00 am

If we're doing ranks (Colonel today) I'd surely like to know why those on the pond's far side can't / don't say this word in the proper rather non-phonetic way (lef-tenant). Any perspective on the back story welcomed.
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Slava » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:32 am

Because it's from French, lieu tenant.

Does British English pronounce "in lieu of" "in lef of"?
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:32 pm

Shucks, in Louisiana we Cajuns spell go, gieux! Or some variation thereof.
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Re: lieutenant

Postby call_copse » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:59 am

Slava wrote:Because it's from French, lieu tenant.

Does British English pronounce "in lieu of" "in lef of"?


No, that's just plain 'loo' like the US misappropriation of the rank, lieutenant is a reasonably unique case AFAIK. Never quite understood it, though you can find older texts using lef'tenant I believe. I've heard something about an old French term leuf which changed over time to lieu - maybe in the case of lieutenant the spelling changed but not the pronunciation.
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:06 pm

Many English words are of foriegn origin and of recent extraction. We have had lieutenant in English since the middle ages. Usually the British try to pronounce a foriegn word the same as an English word. I don't know how the British came up with their pronunciation of lieutenant. Americans usually try, somtimes with little success, to pronounce recently adopted words as pronounced in the source language. To us the obvious pronunciation of lieutenant is quite phonetic and we can't see the f in it. Two more recent words are:
garage Brit: GARR-ig Amer: g-RAHGE (we don't quite get the French in this)
Nazi Brit: NAH-zi Amer: NAT-si

Americans are not consistent:
rodeo Spanish: ro-DA-o Amer: RO-de-o
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Slava » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:27 pm

Two comments from the peanut gallery:

I, an American, have never said Nat-si.

As to rodeo, how's about Rodeo Drive?
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:57 pm

Rodeo Drive keeps its Spanish pronunciation in English. The rodeo, with bull riding and barrel racing gets the American Pronunciation.

I could be wrong about Nazi but NAT-si is the only way I have heard it pronounced in the USA. I am not much influenced by movies but I think Americans in movies say NAT-si. I grew up in a Texas county equally divided among Anglo, Germans, and Hispanics with a few people from Poland to sweeten the mix. They all spoke their native languages. We had a passel of Nazi's among us during WW II to add a little excitement. We even had a Nazi spy in our midst. We all said NAT-si. It would be interesting to see what other people say. I don't want to approach using the word inappropriately as in Limbaugh's "Feminazis". 'Nuf said from me.
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:18 pm

I've heard both pronunciations, but personally have always preferred Nahtzi. But then I always lean toward Spanish pronunciation.

Regarding lieutenant, the discussion brought to mind Hamlet's comment, "I'd as lief the town crier spoke my lines."
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Re: lieutenant

Postby Slava » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:56 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Regarding lieutenant, the discussion brought to mind Hamlet's comment, "I'd as lief the town crier spoke my lines."

Nice, but of course lief and lieu have nothing in common. It doth make me ponder where cometh the Leftenant pronuncification.

As a bit of an aside, which I may have mentioned a few years back, I have met at least two born Nazis. Pronounced "Nahzi". this is a not-all-that-uncommon Georgian (as in the country) female name.
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