Jim McKenney
Mon, 11 Jul 2005 09:43:12 PDT
Jim Shields answers a question I asked on this forum early last year. 

How many of you remember the brief period when Tulipa fosteriana made the
rounds as Tulipa fosterana? Or Tulipa bakeriana as Tulipa bakerana? There
are others!

The "if it ends in r" rule Jim cites was at play there.

However, you should not expect universal application of this rule. Why?
Because it is based on linguistic principles which are not apparent to most
people. Because the symbol r represents many different phonemic phenomena in
different languages ( or for that matter, within the same language), this
rule has to be applied judiciously.   In other words, don't apply the rule
by rote. 

If past practice is any gauge, most people will not understand the rule and
will apply it indiscriminately. Native speakers of English will be among the
worst offenders because our language is so different from the romance
languages whose esthetics the "after r" rule reflects. Thus, what started as
an idea well grounded in linguistics will become a silly spelling witch-

And isn't there a more basic problem: what sense does it make to establish
such arcane rules, rules based on sound linguistic principles, if you then
turn around and pronounce the words as if they were English (a language in
which the rules in question do not apply)? 

Jim McKenney

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