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Aks me no questions, I'll tell no lies - Who has time for a journal?
April 13th, 2006
11:59 am

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Aks me no questions, I'll tell no lies
On the radio last night, and repeated again this morning, I heard Condi Rice saying that there are demands that the Iranians need to "assede" to.  Her pronunciation makes me ashamed for my country, and ashamed that Stanford University had her as Provost for 6 years !  The news reports apparently didn't even notice, spelling the word she meant to use rather than what she actually said:

"There are demands on the table -- and the Iranians need to accede to those demands," she said

"But there are demands on the table and the Iranians need to accede to those demands."

In English, the letter C is usually soft (pronounced like S)  when it's followed by E, I, or Y, and it's hard (pronounced like K)  when followed by A, O, or a consonant.  The first C in the word "accede" is followed by the second C, which is a consonant, so the first C is hard.  Double C should be pronounced like "kk" or like "ks"; that's just how English handles the words it borrows from Latin.  Anything else is just ignorance, illiteracy, and thoughtlessness.

- accord
- occupy

- accent
- accident
- accelerate
- eccentric
- succeed
- occipital
- flaccid
- accede

The word "accede" has synonyms that are pronounced with an S sound.  You can ascend to the throne, or you can assent to a decree, or you can accede to either one.  In Condi's case, perhaps she's over-correcting.  The pronunciation of "ask" as "aks" is one of the main characteristics of Ebonics dialects.  Maybe she's avoiding the "aks" sound even in words where it's correct.

The word "flaccid" is one of my pet peeves (or eccentricities).  Little kids teach it incorrectly to each other as a slightly naughty word.  It's so commonly mispronounced that people don't even know how to spell it.  The word "placid" is only slightly similar in form and in meaning.  Remember the unhelpful mnemonic: In "flaccid" the first C is hard.  In "tumescent" and "turgid" (as well as in "rigid"), every C or G is soft.

Doesn't anyone learn spelling rules these days?  Every time I spell certain words, I still remember the rules I was taught.  We spell "necessary" with one C, because we'd pronounce it like "nexus" if it had a double C.  We spell "succeed" and "success" with a double C, because we pronounce both sounds.

Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:fuzzygruf
Date:April 14th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)

Succede

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Suck seed is my favorite. Just sayin'.
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From:deege
Date:April 14th, 2006 03:59 am (UTC)
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Actually, both pronunciations of flaccid are acceptable. M-W lists the one you prefer second.

But accede only has one correct pronunciation, and it sounds like Condi isn't using it!
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From:bearfuz
Date:September 6th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
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I know this is an old post, but I just discovered it, so I'll weigh in here.

I have heard "accessorize" and some other double-c word (that I can't remember right now) pronounced with the S and not the KS sound by other people than Condi. I never liked it, but I decided that it might be a regionalism, or something. I haven't been able to generalize and figure out just what region that might be, though. It does make me think of Spanish, and how (in their orthographic reform) most Latin double C's have been reduced to one and pronounced as such, whether S or Theta.

That said, I would prefer, as you do, that American English speakers pronounce both the K and the S in those words. It does eliminate confusion between "succeed" and "secede," and similar pairs.
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