Pronunciation of -eity
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Feb 12, 2013 11:32 PM Last Post By: dawutthegiant
Feb 10, 2013 3:26 AM
Pronunciation of -eityIn England, if you sing Hark the Herald, everyone around, as far as I can tell, pronounces deity as day-ity, and it has been thus since I regularly got to sing it in the school choir in the 70s. Likewise sponta-nay-ity. But on one occasion, in the mid 80s, I was singing in Oxford and an erudite gentleman suggested it should be dee-ity and he averred day-ity was some horrible modern mispronunciation. Likewise it should be dee-ify, sponta-nee-ity, though these are rarely heard in England these days. However one does hear dee-ism and dee-ist quite often, perhaps because we are most aware of these words from Richard Dawkins and Archbishops and the like saying them on telly, and they say them like that.
If I look in 30-yr-old copy of Chambers Dictionary I have to hand, it suggests that -ee- is the only pronunciation for all of these. Makes sense really. It isn't -ei- as in beige or ceiling, it's -e-i- as in reiterate. Further, -eity often comes from -eous which is pronounced -ee-us, and in the de- ones from deus which would have been pronounced dee-us in the old English pronunciation. A modern Collins dictionary gives both pronunciations, no doubt reflecting present reality.
So, anyone here say dee-ity, sponta-nee-ity? Is this your dogged persistence, or do other people round you say them like that? What is the geographic extent of -ay-ity and how recent is it?
Feb 10, 2013 4:11 AM
1My English is pretty much Canadian and I say -ay-ity. I don't think I have heard anyone say -ee-ity and if I did I would find it odd.
Feb 10, 2013 6:29 AM
Feb 10, 2013 7:32 AM
Feb 10, 2013 8:00 AM
4For what it's worth, I looked at some late 18th & early 19th C. dictionaries.
Johnson's, 1805 (British)
Webster's, 1830 (American)
Sheridan Improved, 1798 (British)
All have dee-ity.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Feb 10, 2013 9:14 AM
Feb 10, 2013 12:48 PM
6I say day-ity and spontan-ay-ity in Australia. Don't think I've ever heard the other option.
Feb 10, 2013 1:38 PM
Feb 11, 2013 9:01 AM
Feb 11, 2013 1:02 PM
Feb 11, 2013 2:11 PM
Feb 11, 2013 3:06 PM
11Oops - I wrote it wrong - sponta-nay-aty.
Born and raised in Maryland.
Feb 11, 2013 3:57 PM
12I say dayity and spontanayity but there's little difference to the sounds in Scotland. The laity in their gaiety rhyme deity and spontaneity.
Feb 12, 2013 12:56 AM
13I say dee-ity and spontanay-ity. Born in New York, raised in Midwest and Northwestern US. The reason for this apparent contradiction is that according to the spelling I was taught (and I competed in spelling bees) the words are deity and spontanaeity, similar to gaeity. thus the extra a, giving it an ae vowel sound instead of just e, makes the difference. No idea on the history of pronunciation, though.
Feb 12, 2013 5:19 AM
I do recall seeing spontanaeity written before, but I have always thought that written thus implied spontanæity which made it made it -ee- for certain, as in encylopædia and mediæval. This would reflect the original (late) Latin stem can be written either spontanae-us or spontane-us.
*Further, although we got gay/gaiety from French, the word is originally German not Latin.
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