An introduction to shibboleths.

Wascurito

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The word shibboleth has its origins in the Bible as related in the Book of Judges. The Ephraimites had invaded the lands of the Gileadites but being defeated, were attempting to flee back east. The men of Gilead blocked all fords on the River Jordan and asked any man crossing to pronounce the Hebrew word shibboleth ("ear of corn") correctly. The Ephraimites couldn't pronounce the 'sh' consonant, rendering the word as "sibboleth" and anyone who pronounced the word in this way never made it home.

Hence, the word's primary usage now is "a peculiarity of pronunciation [but also behaviour, mode of dress, etc.] that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons".

There are numerous examples of the power of shibboleths throughout history, very often with grim results. In 1302 in the city of Brugge (Bruges), the Flemish used "schild en vriend" to identify (and kill) Frenchmen. You really really need to have studied Flemish for a while to know how to pronounce "sch". It's not at all like the German "sch". You start off with an "s" and then quickly switch over to the softly guttural "ch" sound in "mo chara".

(By the way, there's a good chance you've been mispronouncing the name of Amsterdam's main airport all your life. And names like Kluivert, Geert and Cruyff.)

Anyway, Tokyo and surrounding Japanese regions were struck by a disastrous earthquake in September 1923 killing nearly 150,000 people. In the days afterwards, the government and media spread stories saying that Koreans and other foreigners were starting fires and poisoning wells. Non-Japanese were identified by their inability to pronounce the syllables "ra ri ru re ro". The Japanese way of pronouncing "r" is a quite unique combination of "r" and "l" and "d" and those who failed the test (including six thousand Koreans as well as hundreds of Chinese labourers) were massacred.

Poverty-stricken Haitians were the victims of another notorious incident in the western regions of the Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti in 1937. The Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo ordered their massacre and they were allegedly identified by their inability to pronounce the Spanish word for parsley, perejil. Estimates put the numbers massacred as ranging from 500 to 12,000.

We're not immune on this wee island. While it's not absolute, it's generally accepted that in Nortern Ireland, Catholics pronounce the 8th letter of the alphabet as "haitch" while Protestants render it as "aitch", as do most people in England, Scotland and Wales. Blighty is changing however, and British youngsters are increasingly adopting the (arguably, more logical) "haitch" pronunciation. A world with one less shibboleth would probably be a slightly better place.
 


Old Mr Grouser

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A world with one less shibboleth would probably be a slightly better place.

Not so.

The English language is being dumbed down to make it an international language for the New World Order, as was advocated by Frederick Bodmer in his book The Loom of Language; and as was agreed by the USA and Britain during WW2.

Spelling and punctuation are being 'simplified' after the NorthAmerican style; 'mediaeval' for example has become 'medieval'. And the pluperfect and future-perfect tenses are going out of fashion.
 

Old Mr Grouser

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And on Shibboleths in particular, when I was a boy there were at least three ways of pronouncing the ''th' diphthong: as in 'this', 'that' and 'wrath'.

Nowadays, here in London at least, there's often only the one.
 

Deadlock

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The word shibboleth has its origins in the Bible as related in the Book of Judges. The Ephraimites had invaded the lands of the Gileadites but being defeated, were attempting to flee back east. The men of Gilead blocked all fords on the River Jordan and asked any man crossing to pronounce the Hebrew word shibboleth ("ear of corn") correctly. The Ephraimites couldn't pronounce the 'sh' consonant, rendering the word as "sibboleth" and anyone who pronounced the word in this way never made it home.

Hence, the word's primary usage now is "a peculiarity of pronunciation [but also behaviour, mode of dress, etc.] that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons".

There are numerous examples of the power of shibboleths throughout history, very often with grim results. In 1302 in the city of Brugge (Bruges), the Flemish used "schild en vriend" to identify (and kill) Frenchmen. You really really need to have studied Flemish for a while to know how to pronounce "sch". It's not at all like the German "sch". You start off with an "s" and then quickly switch over to the softly guttural "ch" sound in "mo chara".

(By the way, there's a good chance you've been mispronouncing the name of Amsterdam's main airport all your life. And names like Kluivert, Geert and Cruyff.)

Anyway, Tokyo and surrounding Japanese regions were struck by a disastrous earthquake in September 1923 killing nearly 150,000 people. In the days afterwards, the government and media spread stories saying that Koreans and other foreigners were starting fires and poisoning wells. Non-Japanese were identified by their inability to pronounce the syllables "ra ri ru re ro". The Japanese way of pronouncing "r" is a quite unique combination of "r" and "l" and "d" and those who failed the test (including six thousand Koreans as well as hundreds of Chinese labourers) were massacred.

Poverty-stricken Haitians were the victims of another notorious incident in the western regions of the Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti in 1937. The Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo ordered their massacre and they were allegedly identified by their inability to pronounce the Spanish word for parsley, perejil. Estimates put the numbers massacred as ranging from 500 to 12,000.

We're not immune on this wee island. While it's not absolute, it's generally accepted that in Nortern Ireland, Catholics pronounce the 8th letter of the alphabet as "haitch" while Protestants render it as "aitch", as do most people in England, Scotland and Wales. Blighty is changing however, and British youngsters are increasingly adopting the (arguably, more logical) "haitch" pronunciation. A world with one less shibboleth would probably be a slightly better place.
Thanks for an interesting OP.

There has also been a marked and similar attack on rhoticity (pronounciation of r) in English as it is spoken in England, South Africa and parts of New England. The full round R - as in a pirate AHHR-T.E. for R.T.E. has either been replaced with a soft haitch or dropped entirely. So Ireland is read Ireland but pronounced Ih-land or I-land, and Iron, Ihon/Ion.




Rhoticity in English dialects, ca 1950



Rhoticity in English dialects, ca 2000

There is an analogous trend, said to have arisen in Milton Keynes, where the th sound is replaced by a vv sound - fevver for feather, wevver from weather etc. whose spread seems to mirrior the die back in rhotic English.

On the whole, I'm not a huge fan of a race for linguistic uniformity. I'm all for local colour/color in de way Anglophones speak and write, as long as we all agree that there is more than one acceptable way to use the langauge.

One of the most passionate and stupid linguistic arguments I ever had was with an American over the correct pronounication for Nokia - Knockia or NoKeyA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhoticity_in_English
 

Man or Mouse

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Supposedly some labourers from Tipperary started calling around to the houses of farmers in 1847 and demanded that the employees pronounce the word gabhar (goat) so that they could identify those who had come from Kerry and run them.
https://books.google.ie/books?id=l37VBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA72&dq=pronounced+gabhar+goat+kerry&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=pronounced gabhar goat kerry&f=false
Ever hear a Tipp man - particularly one from the southern half - say, around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran? :D
 

The Field Marshal

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The biggest shibboleth is that Germany has good will toward the EU.

Germany seeks to weaken the EU by creating a federalised system wherein Germany will control and dominate.

The first step in this revival of an essentially Hitlerian idea was German chancellor Angela Merkeles decision to import a million unsuitable refugees with a background hostile to Christianity.

This treacherous and criminal act is designed to destabilise the EU and force feed it into a federation that will be controlled by Germany
 

Old Mr Grouser

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... There has also been a marked and similar attack on rhoticity (pronounciation of r) in English as it is spoken in England, South Africa and parts of New England. The full round R - as in a pirate AHHR-T.E. for R.T.E. has either been replaced with a soft haitch or dropped entirely. So Ireland is read Ireland but pronounced Ih-land or I-land, and Iron, Ihon/Ion ...
Yes.

You'll sometimes hear a BBC broadcaster say 'particuly' for 'particularly'.

And words starting in 'wr' are often pronounced without the aspirate.


[video=youtube;UMsJmiaherE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMsJmiaherE[/video]
 

Wascurito

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Not so.

The English language is being dumbed down to make it an international language for the New World Order, as was advocated by Frederick Bodmer in his book The Loom of Language; and as was agreed by the USA and Britain during WW2.

Spelling and punctuation are being 'simplified' after the NorthAmerican style; 'mediaeval' for example has become 'medieval'. And the pluperfect and future-perfect tenses are going out of fashion.
This has nothing to do with shibboleths. What you're describing is the evolution of language over time. What the OP is about is how a distinctive group is identifiable by a particular pronunciation it uses. This pronunciation can co-exist with the standard pronunciation - at the same time - while remaining separate.
 

Deadlock

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Yes.

You'll sometimes hear a BBC broadcaster say 'particuly' for 'particularly'.

And words starting in 'wr' are often pronounced without the aspirate.


[video=youtube;UMsJmiaherE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMsJmiaherE[/video]
Actually I had more put that down to a North/South England pronunciation difference - like the Northern/Southern England 'uz'/'us'. Is that not the case?
 

Wascurito

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The biggest shibboleth is that Germany has good will toward the EU.

Germany seeks to weaken the EU by creating a federalised system wherein Germany will control and dominate.

The first step in this revival of an essentially Hitlerian idea was German chancellor Angela Merkeles decision to import a million unsuitable refugees with a background hostile to Christianity.

This treacherous and criminal act is designed to destabilise the EU and force feed it into a federation that will be controlled by Germany
I nominate this post for the Golden Shoehorn Award 2017.

 

GDPR

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The biggest shibbeloteths in Irish politics are the "United Irishmen" and Michael Collins.
 

Wascurito

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And on Shibboleths in particular, when I was a boy there were at least three ways of pronouncing the ''th' diphthong: as in 'this', 'that' and 'wrath'.

Nowadays, here in London at least, there's often only the one.
What distinctive group(s) uses these pronunciations?
 

Wascurito

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The biggest shibbeloteths in Irish politics are the "United Irishmen" and Michael Collins.
Thank you Ratio - for completely missing the point and butchering the spelling while you're at it.

I think another standing-ovation gif is called for. :roll:
 

Wascurito

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Supposedly some labourers from Tipperary started calling around to the houses of farmers in 1847 and demanded that the employees pronounce the word gabhar (goat) so that they could identify those who had come from Kerry and run them.
https://books.google.ie/books?id=l37VBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA72&dq=pronounced+gabhar+goat+kerry&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=pronounced gabhar goat kerry&f=false
Fascinating. This is a true shibboleth and that book looks very interesting.

Thank you for understanding the OP and getting the idea. There is a lot of posters here who are trying to twist it around to fit their own agenda.
 

Old Mr Grouser

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Actually I had more put that down to a North/South England pronunciation difference - like the Northern/Southern England 'uz'/'us'.

Is that not the case?
Here in London I'd say it's more a locally developed style of second-language English.

Children are being born into households where nobody speaks English that well. Then the mother goes to work and the child is with a child-minder whose English is poor.

And then when they start school it's likely that, because of the local area, they're among children from all over the world none of whom have good English
 


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