Luthier

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Dr. Goodword
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Luthier

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:12 pm

• luthier •


Pronunciation: lu-ti-êr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments.

Notes: Restrain yourself from pronouncing this word as [lu-thi-êr]. Merriam-Webster is the only respectable dictionary that accepts this pronunciation. The reason for this pronunciation will become clear in Word History.

In Play: The meaning of today's word has strayed from the maker of lutes to include makers of all stringed instruments—and repairmen, too: "No, no, Amanda Lynn doesn't need more lessons; she just needs a good luthier to tighten up her instrument." (What instrument would you guess Amanda plays?) It still retains its sense of a creator of stringed instruments: "Luthiers have tried for ages, but not one has (yet) achieved the quality of Stradivarius."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us without implications that Martin Luther made stringed instruments, but from Old French luthier, a noun created from luth "lute". Its original meaning was restricted to lute makers, still the only sense the Oxford English Dictionary carries. Old French borrowed the word from Old Provençal laut. It came to be in that language as a borrowing from Arabic al 'ud "the wood". This word was reanalyzed from al 'ud to laud by the process of metathesis, thence to laut. (Our gratitude is due Yim Hall, a student luthier, for today's Good Word.)
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David Myer
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Re: Luthier

Postby David Myer » Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:54 am

So it is a hard th, as always in French. Bibliotheque. But tell me this: why is Anthony with a hard 't' sound, often pronounced 'th' in Australia. And in America, is Anthony t or th?

In UK it is as far as I recall always t as in Tony. Perhaps it's a French name?

damoge
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Re: Luthier

Postby damoge » Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:21 am

David, in the US, Anthony is TH, but his nickname is Tony.
When referring to Cleopatra's love, it is spelled Antony.

You have to accommodate the very literal (though often illiterate) US mind.
Everything works out, one way or another

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Re: Luthier

Postby David Myer » Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:34 am

Thanks Debbie.

I think you are a little hard on US intellect. There is nothing wrong with literal! Like everywhere else, there is a range of intellects. And thanks to some at the higher end, we are able to have some fun here in the Agora.
Last edited by David Myer on Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Luthier

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:57 am

This president does raise many, many questions pertinent to language. However, since I've been chided more than once for example sentences that have political implications that I had overlooked (or tried to cover up), we've avoided anything political in the Agora. It's a touchy subject over here these days.
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Re: Luthier

Postby David Myer » Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:03 pm

Fair enough. Sorry. I don't like to breach protocol. I have removed the controversial bit. I have always enjoyed your efforts towards non-specificity in example sentences that might be seen otherwise to have a political slant. Good work.

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Re: Luthier

Postby George Kovac » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:35 pm

Lute, luthier, lutiest?

OK, maybe this post will sound cranky. I may offend pronunciation snobs.

How Americans pronounce obscure words, or words that are still sort of "foreign" indicates nothing about being "literal" or "literate."

Language, as I have often argued on this site, is not logic. It is culture, it is history, it is rich and messy, often inconsistent, and for sure it is not a subset of logic. It is intuitive, shared, sometimes arbitrary and almost always layered with subconscious associations from times long past. Predominant or variant pronunciations are not necessarily a marker of lack of erudition. And meanings and pronunciations change over time, sometimes rapidly--seemingly for no discernable reason at all--so what is "proper" in times of change? Do you use a long or short vowel for the first vowel in "data"? That has been rapidly shifting in American speech for at least a decade. Or which side of the divide do you find yourself with respect to the long or short of the second vowel in "divisive"?

How to pronounce "th" in an obscure or recently foreign word? Why should American speakers preserve a French or German pronunciation merely because the provenance of a word can be traced to those languages? Most Americans say "th" when speaking of the German airline "Lufthansa" and I am OK with that. I suppose the "proper" pronunciation of "Neanderthal" also requires a "t" not a "th," but I don't feel like a caveman because I pronounce all the letters in the word.

Perhaps my permissive attitude stems from growing up in Chicago, a city that is unpretentious, highly cultured and deeply pragmatic. Maybe this balance is best illustrated by the example of the late Sir Georg Solti, conductor of the Chicago Symphony, and arguably the greatest conductor of the late 20th century. (By the way, though he died in 1997, no artist has won more Grammies than Solti.) Yet, each year on the week the regular NFL season began, he would lead that august orchestra in a rousing version of the fight song "Bear Down, Chicago Bears." Then, on to two hours of Wagner. Chicagoans of all stripes generally pronounce words the way they look. Even if you are a professor of German literature at the University of Chicago, if you are on the Clark Street bus and want the bus driver to let you out on Goethe Street you better say "GO-thee" (rhymes with "go see").
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

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Re: Luthier

Postby Audiendus » Fri Oct 02, 2020 8:13 am

Most Americans say "th" when speaking of the German airline "Lufthansa" and I am OK with that. I suppose the "proper" pronunciation of "Neanderthal" also requires a "t" not a "th," but I don't feel like a caveman because I pronounce all the letters in the word.
In the UK we pronounce "Lufthansa" with a separate 't' and 'h' – "Luft-hansa" (although the 'h' may disappear in rapid speech). In "Neanderthal" we pronounce only the 't'; the 'h' is silent.

I think this is broadly in line with the division of the words. 'Luft' (air) and 'hans' are separate syllables, but 'thal' (valley) is the old spelling of the modern 'Tal' (pronounced the same).

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Re: Luthier

Postby David Myer » Sun Oct 04, 2020 12:50 am

Interesting stuff. I like that the origin of Lufthansa was two words and so is pronounced accordingly in UK (and by me in Australia). Hitchhike still has two 'h's, and both are properly pronounced. Withhold and bathhouse also have two and both are pronounced. But how many 'h' sounds are there in Southampton? Of course only one is pronounced these days, and now only one appears in the spelling. So here is one of those unusual situations in English where you can let the spelling dictate the pronunciation.

I don't think I will ever be able to bring myself to pronounce Goethe as Go-thee. I am afraid I will just have to miss my bus stop and walk back.


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