Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Word of the Day: the Orthoëpy of “Quinean”

We have had frequent occasion, on this blog, to make use of a fine and seasoned adjective, to wit:  Quinean;  meaning, ‘of, like, relating to, scented with the essence of, or singing hymns of eulogy to, Quine'.    Now:  Quine rhymes with spline, or sine, or affine;  but Quinean -- ahh, that is another case entirely.  The vowel is, let us not be curt, and say “short”, but rather:   trim, and crisp, with the stressed vowel of those splendid very syllables.  To form the word,  you pout the lips just slightly, as though sampling and evaluating a particularly fine dry sherry at a soirée of the Philosophy Department;  you do not open your mouth wi-i-i-de the way they do over at Sociology or Athletic Medicine.   It rhymes, thus, with Augustinian, and with very little else;  it is itself, in fact, an eminently Augustinian vocable, and ill-inclined to participate in any vulgar limericks or advertising jingles.
(And as for Quine -- who knows how they pronounce it, over in -- horresco referens -- Applied Mathematics;  probably rhymes with "groin".)


Certain English suffixes shorten the quantity of the immediately preceding vowel.  Thus:  finite (long i) - infinity (short).  bibliophile (long i) - bibliophilic (short).
Whether -ean be numbered among these, I have not bothered to investigate;  but simply decree, ex cathedra,  en tant que Editor of Pronunciation emeritus (thus with awe-inspiring authority), that it Shall Be Thus:  KWINN-ee-an.

So there.

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