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Academic Paper


Title: Why can recognize be pronounced without /ɡ/? On silent letters and French origin in English – and what other explanations there can be
Author: Daniel Huber
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Université de Toulouse II - Le Mirail
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Investigating the phonological patterns, especially the stress patterns, of verbs ending in -ize such as finalize, constitutionalize, etc, the word recognize has attracted my attention. One would not generally attach too much attention to this word for its phonology: it seems to be a run-of-the-mill case of stressing the third-last (antepenultimate) syllable of a non-transparent derivation by -ize. For instance, Nádasdy (2006: 222) treats -ize as a basically neutral (strong) suffix, that is one that is not supposed to interfere with stress-patterns and otherwise of the stem to which it is attached. Following established analyses, he divides -ize words into two categories, though: those that are derived from a free stem ('character > 'characterize, 'final > 'finalize), where stress (indicated by the ' mark) does not shift in the derived verb, and those whose stem is non-transparent ('recognize, 'categorize), and where stress tends to be furthest away from the suffix itself. The fact that recognize has a non-transparent derivation means that there is no free English word *recogn. Ginésy (2004: 126) analyzes recognize as morphologically having a double prefix, re- and co-, which reduces the stem to Latinate -gn-, which is always bound in English. Whether his etymological analysis is warranted for the contemporary morphology of recognize is at least disputable today, but he correctly claims that 'recognize, with stress on the initial syllable, behaves like a non-transparent derivation so it receives antepenultimate stressing. In other words, the most wide-spread pronunciation of recognize, with initial stress, is generally unproblematic in the literature: it is a case of non-transparent derivation by -ize with antepenultimate stressing.

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This article appears IN English Today Vol. 29, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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