Date: Wed, 13 Apr 1994 20:38:06 CDT
From: "Donald M. Lance" ENGDL[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MIZZOU1.BITNET
Subject: Re: ink pen
Both "fountain pen" and "ink pen" may be useful as phonological disambiguators,
and it's possible that commercial terms [as opposed to "quill pen"] played a
role in establishing the terms that then could be clipped. It's not
necessarily the case that "ink" and "fountain" were added to "pen" -- but
the two-word forms are useful.
When I was presenting a workshop to English teachers in Conroe TX (about 1966),
one of the 25 or so teachers was from the Upper Midwest and the others from
that part of Texas. The E-speaker inititated a digression in my discussion
of phonetics by complaining about the kids -- and teachers -- not distinguish-
ing 'pen' and 'pin'. I wrote the two words on the board and asked the
E-speaker to say one of the words. She distinctly said [pEn] and when I asked
for a show of hands the class was evenly divided on which vowel was spoken.
The E-speaker was visibly surprised and a little shocked to discover that
her colleagues really couldn't hear a distinction that was so clear.
Now I wish I'd had the foresight to ask that group of teachers about "ink