WSW ridiculous

Hardly the most highbrow news source, but I’m listening to ClassicFM as I work and their news reporter has just been analysing Vince Cable’s suprisingly funny Mr Bean reference in the Commons today. The gist of his comments was that Gordon Brown better watch out, because things are getting serious now that they’ve started [rəˈdɪkjulɪŋ] him like this.

I’ve never heard main stress on the second syllable of ridiculing before. If he’d only said it once, it could have been a mix-up with ridiculous, [rəˈdɪkjuləs] but he then went on to say [rəˈdɪkjul] several times.

Does anyone else do this?

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PS – I’ve just looked up the OED (to confirm that the SWW pattern is the listed form) and notice that they provide a verb, ridiculize, marked ‘obs., rare’, with a citation from 1615 – ‘My heart still trembling lest the false alarms That words oft strike up should ridiculize me.’ Cool eh.

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7 thoughts on “WSW ridiculous

  1. Isn’t the whole shove-the-accent-near-the-front thing a creeping tendency beginning in the C19 or 20? (vague memory of something in Fowler, but you know what it’s like looking for something in there)

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  2. Bizarrely i was looking at Fowler last night for the first time in probably years (he is of course a Pernicious Prescriptivist in the eyes of many :) )

    Not sure if I can think of any systematic stress shifts off the top of my head, but there’s bound to be some. Maybe end-stressed bisyllabic French loanwords, to make them fit the predominant strong-weak pattern of English bisyllabic nouns?

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  3. I wish I knew more about metre, it might convert me to poetry other than my few favourites. I have looked at the thing you linked to – interesting!

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  4. Thanksgiving always has initial stress for me as far as i know, so the whole discussion was slightly surreal, but looking at poetry with regular metrical patterns must be one of the best ways of establishing lexical stress in older varieties of English – in principle anyway – it’s only recently that analysts of spoken language have developed a notation for stress and prosody and apart from that you’re left with impressionistic descriptions of striking or contentious cases, which often isn’t very helpful :)

    PS – the title of this post should obviously say ridicule rather than ridiculous :roll: but i won’t bother editing it at this stage

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  5. Even in:

    * This year’s harvest thanksgiving

    * The thanksgiving service is at 7pm

    * By prayer and thanksgiving with supplication let your requests be made known

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