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Posts Tagged ‘phonology’

Dearth

There is a word. It is a good word, with strong, Old English origins. The word means ‘scarcity’, and is spelled D-E-A-R-T-H. Being a person whose reading far exceeds her experience of audible vocabulary, I chose the pronunciation of this word. Despite associations with the Dark Side in Star Wars, I opted for the sound that rhymes with hearth. Then one day some friends heard me say dearth and decided I needed to learn that the pronunciation actually rhymes with earth.

And I still don’t like it. Earth is such a full, substantial word, like a foundational grunt. A word meaning ‘famine’ ought to have a hollow, agonizing emptiness, where echoes live. Dearth should have a sound reminiscent of starving, and less like ‘birth’.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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