Sunday, April 08, 2007
Will Shortz just did a thing on NPR where he gave a word and you were supposed to give a name of a major city that rhymed with it. His last clue was Yemen, which he pronounced what I take to be the usual American way, namely Y[ɛ]men. I am familiar with Y[e:]men, but didn't happen to think about that. The answer, he hinted, was "a city in Germany". So, I'm trying to think of major German cities that would be spelled ending in -emmen, that is, with a lax or short vowel (the double consonant spelling signals that). But he quickly said: Br[ɛ]men. In German, and in my experience in English too, it's pronounced Br[e:]men. So I think, is this a dialect thing? But Merriam-Webster gives both, with his version first. I would have really avoided that one — the basic variability really throws you off.
Posted by Mr. Verb at 7:45 AM