March 10th, 2011

  • gr_cl

Next but one

Do you ever use the phrase "next but one"?

For example, in the alphabet, B is "next" after A, but C is "next but one" after A.

I grew up in England but now live in the USA.  I had one of those moments today when I said "next but one" and got empty stares and laughs from my colleagues.  It still happens to me, even after living here for 13 years!

I would be interested to see whether any Americans know this phrase, and to what extent it's known by Brits and other English-speakers.  A Google Books search found some apparently American usages, but they seem quite old.

UPDATE:  If you don't know/understand "next but one', would you understand <a href="">All the Laws But One</a> to mean "all the laws, except for one"?  That was a famous quotation from Abraham Lincoln.

Chinese Romanization?

My mom's a (western) calligrapher, and one of her calligraphy friends has a list of names to write out, including a (presumably) Chinese name. The name list is in all caps, and she's supposed to write it in upper and lower case for the calligraphy. My mom sent it on to me, because I was a linguistics major and geek out about writing systems. I don't speak or read any kind of Chinese, and I have only a shaky grasp of how the different romanized orthographies work out.

The name was given as "SHI-KE XUE", and the calligrapher is asking if it should be "Shi-Ke Xue" or "Shi-ke Xue". As far as I know, there is no context about where this person is from, what chinese language they speak, or anything other than the name. I think the calligraphy is for a swanky invitation, so it might not be possible to talk to them beforehand.

I thought it would be relatively straightforward (figure out if the original romanizer used pinyin or Wade-Giles and apply the rules!) but it seems more complicated than that, because (AFAIK, not knowing Chinese) there aren't hyphens in pinyin and there aren't "x"s in WG. In either of the main two systems, though, the second syllable of a compound name would be lowercase, right?

I said that I was totally unqualified to answer, but my best guess was "Shi-ke Xue".

So, sinolinguaphiles: Is there a way to know how to write this in Latin letters that doesn't involve getting more information? Is there some sort of best practice to use when writing a romanized Chinese name if you don't know the person or how they usually spell their name? If you have a Chinese name and someone capitalized it differently than you normally would, would you be offended?


Intervocalic voicing?

Not to rely too much on orthography, but I've recently been noticing a variation in how written x manifests itself phonetically between two vowels. I pronounce "exit" with [gz] but "exodus" with [ks]. I actually started noticing this more after hearing Rufus Wainwright sing "exit" with [ks] (in "Between My Legs"), which I wasn't used to. I recently heard "exile" with [gz] on The Rachel Maddow Show (in reference to the Wisconsin Democratic senators currently in Illinois); I pronounce it with [ks].

How do you pronounce these words, and where are you from?

  • Current Music
    Florence + the Machine - You've Got the Love