What are you doing with <i>my preface</i>?

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Miscellaneous  »  What are you doing with my preface?

What are you doing with my preface?

By Marcia Pinheiro | Published  01/30/2014 | Miscellaneous | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://fra.proz.com/doc/3973
Author:
Marcia Pinheiro
Australie
anglais vers portugais translator
 
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We recently stumbled across another issue in the English language.


Language should exist to improve our chances of bonding and acting as one against the universe, so that whatever complicates things unnecessarily should be put out of it.


Rules simplify communication, since it suffices knowing them to get it right, but they may also complicate things at least sometimes.


The word preface, for instance, is an oddity.


Basically, it is formed (Harper, 2001-2013) from prae (before) and fari (speak), and therefore there is no justification not to split its syllables as expected: pre-face.


Notwithstanding, we visit the dictionary and see (preface, 2003): pref•ace (prĕf′ĭs) .


It should be a rule that every word that is formed from a known word and the prefix pre split in a certain way. See:


1) Prearrange (prearrange, 2003): pre•ar•range (prē′ə-rānj′);


2) Precaution (precaution, 2003): pre•cau•tion (prĭ-kô′shən) ;


3) Precondition (precondition, 2003): pre•con•di•tion (prē′kən-dĭsh′ən);


4) Predisposition (predisposition, 2003): pre•dis•po•si•tion (prē′dĭs-pə-zĭsh′ən);


5) Predominant (predominant, 2003): pre•dom•i•nant (prĭ-dŏm′ə-nənt);


6) Prefabricate (prefabricate, 2003): pre•fab•ri•cate (prē-făb′rĭ-kāt′);


7) Preferment (preferment, 2003): pre•fer•ment (prĭ-fûr′mənt);


8) Prehistoric (prehistoric, 2003): pre•his•tor•ic (prē′hĭ-stôr′ĭk, -stŏr′-);


9) Preliterate (preliterate, 2003): pre•lit•er•ate (prē-lĭt′ər-ĭt);


10) Premarital (premarital, 2003): pre•mar•i•tal (prē-măr′ĭ-tl);


11) Prepack (prepack, 2010): pre•pack (n. ˈpriˌpæk; v. priˈpæk);


12) Prepay (prepay, 2003): pre•pay (prē-pā′);


13) Preponderate (preponderate, 2003): pre•pon•der•ate (prĭ-pŏn′də-rāt′);


14) Prerogative (prerogative, 2003): pre•rog•a•tive (prĭ-rŏg′ə-tĭv);


15) Preschool (preschool, 2003): pre•school (prē′sko̅o̅l′);


16) Prescript (prescript, 2003): pre•script (prē′skrĭpt′);


17) Preseason (preseason, 2003): pre•sea•son (prē′sē′zən);


18) Preserve (preserve, 2003): pre•serve (prĭ-zûrv′); and


19) Preset (preset, 2003): pre•set (prē-sĕt′).


The question then arises: Why is it that preface does not split in the way it should (like by all probability and human logic on earth)?


We then imagine that that can only have to do with the way the word was originally pronounced, since its pronunciation seems to be illogical, as for the English language.


According to (Harper, 2001-2013), the original Latin words could only have been prefatia, praefationem, praefatio, or praefari.


According to (Martin, 2013), the e in pre would read in the same way that the e in pet or the e in they read. We apparently have a choice then even in terms of the own Latin and we could easily choose to say this e as we say the e in they, for instance.


According to the same source, the ae in prae would read in the same way as the ay in say.


Perhaps there is no special reason to preserve the original pronunciation, so that trying to read the e in the same way we read it in pet, that is, imagining that this e is a short one (Martin, 2013), and is still a Latin one, is probably not a very rational decision.


Notice that we have changed this word if its origins are in the Latin language, since it now has got a different spelling.


Had the word come from the French language, then this e would be pronounced as the e in predator, since preface (from the French language, (preface, 2014)) is pronounced (pʀefas) and predator (Merriam-Webster, 2014) is pronounced (ˈpre-də-tər) .


That is finally what we have then.


In this case, the spelling has been preserved.


Notice that all the nineteen words in our list contain a word that makes sense to us if the prefix pre is deleted, but if we delete the pre in predator, we get dator, and this is not a word that makes sense to us.


There should be rules however, as we said before; and rigid rules, since, and we now repeat ourselves, rules help us communicate effectively.


We seem to choose keeping the original pronunciation of the word when we import words from other languages in terms of the English language, so that this seems to be a rule. Notwithstanding, given that we would always have to know where each particular foreign addition to our language comes from to determine pronunciation and/or separation of syllables, this is not a very rational rule.


We should probably accept at least one version of the word that be local, so say prē-face or prĭ-face.


This way we could follow both the original logic of the formation of the English language, which must have to do with the way we naturally think if we are born in countries that have English as their official language, and therefore we could show some respect for ourselves, and the original logic of the formation of the foreign language (and this way also show some respect for the civilization whose word we are basically stealing).


This proposal sounds a bit fairer with all and therefore seems to serve the purpose of facilitating communication better than the proposal we currently have, so why not making words like preface belong to all of us in an actual manner?


References:


Harper, D. (2001-2013). Preface. Retrieved January 27 2014 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=preface


preface. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preface


prearranged. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prearranged


precaution. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/precaution


precondition. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/precondition


predisposition. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/predisposition


preferment. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preferment


prehistoric. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prehistoric


preliterate. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preliterate


premarital. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/premarital


prepack. (n.d.) Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. (2010). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prepack


prepay. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prepay


preponderate. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preponderate


prerogative. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prerogative


preschool. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preschool


prescript. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/prescript


preseason. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preseason


preserve. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preserve


preset. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preset


Martin, M. (2013). How to Pronounce Latin. Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.preces-latinae.org/thesaurus/Introductio/Pronunciatio.html


preface. (n.d.) K Dictionaries. (2013). Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://fr.thefreedictionary.com/preface


Merriam-Webster. (2014). Predator. Retrieved January 29 2014 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/predator






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