Date: Thu, 6 Apr 1995 09:44:46 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Dennis P. writes:
The alternatives to harass reflect euphemistic practices. harASS (and
harASSment) sound too much like HER ASS; HARassment (and HARass) have
increased. (-ment follows regular rules depending on stress on the
bisyllabic) Note the similar use of Uranus. urAnus sounded too much like YOUR
ANUS, so (following Sagan's lead in Cosmos) a URanus pronunciation became more
popular than before. I treat Uranus in more detail in a Maledicta article of a
few years back.
Some linguists sitting in on Noam Chomsky's celebrated exposition of the post-
Sound Pattern of English theory of phonology during the 1966 LSA Linguistic
Institute (he taught one phonology seminar and one syntax (post-Aspects)
seminar, both very well attended) still remember the day he chose to illustrate
stress rules by citing (several times in succession) the pair
with the latter (like the former) receiving final stress. It was never clear
whether he anticipated the snickers from the audience; if so, it would con-
stitute one of the few occasions on which Chomsky employed humor in a lecture
on any topic. (As Fritz Newmeyer recalls, students in those days would bring
up examples of the form "Gwendolyn persuaded Murgatroyd to be easy to seduce"
and Chomsky would write on the board "Mary persuaded John to be easy to
On the euphemistic frontal stressing of the planet, though, the alternative
--replacing "Your Anus" with "Urinous"--doesn't completely solve the problem.