Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Very specific usage/spelling post

Here's something I've been seeing more and more often on the interwebs of late: people who have heard the Italian word segue, which is pronounced (approximately) 'SEG-way' and has been appropriated to English in much the same way as chic or Schadenfreude or joie de vivre, and have wrongly concluded that it's an English word and that's how you spell it. Clearly some bloggers and social networkers have seen 'segway' on other people's blogs and spelled it that way and so on and so virally forth.

A segue is a smooth transition. 'Segway' (TM) is the clever bilingual homophone used as the trade name for one of these.

8 comments:

Wendy said...

This is slightly off topic I suppose but the Segway makes comic appearances in Arrested Development and Frasier...(are we seeing segue make a smooth transition to segway I wonder?)

Henry said...

You might use a Segway to make a smooth transition from one place to another.

Hark! Is that the sound of an eggcorn dropping?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well indeed; I assume that's why they called them that.

Sort of an eggcorn before the fact. Or perhaps a scrambled eggcorn.

naomi said...

I saw a man on a segway in the Coles underground car park yesterday and I couldn't remember what it was called so thank you ... and yes, I've been obliged to correct a few of those intending to say segue in recent times ...

clarencegirl said...

Haven't seen 'segway' in my travels yet, but was amused to sight a NSW Police document which mentioned a "single story residence" yesterday.
I suppose that means it only had one tale to tell the men in blue!

Suse said...

I haven't come across segway either, but a TUTOR at my place of book-learnin' recently used the word and pronounced it SEDGE-WAY.

I sat up a bit straight and eyed him suspiciously after that.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah, I have a theory about sedge-way. I reckon some people have seen it written 'segue', perhaps got a bit confused, and decided to have it both ways (as often happens with apostrophes, or so I've found), and spell it -- I've seen this several times too -- 'segueway'. Which looks, if you squint a bit, as though it ought to be pronounced 'sedge-way'.

No more can be expected of such an entrenchedly (if that is a word) monolingual culture -- people who've never learned another language have no sense of the possibility of different rules of pronunciation. But that from a tutor is pushing it a bit, I agree. In the 1960s at Adelaide U it used to be a rule that you couldn't do English Honours (which at that time began as extra tutes from the beginning of second year) unless you were doing either at least one other language or Old and Middle English as your second major. Thank God they changed it before I got there.

I was really shocked when I spent a month in provincial Austria, at the University of Klagenfurt, teaching a summer school course in Australian studies and had a class full of pan-Europeans who all spoke fluent English plus at least one other European language apart from their own. It's the norm. It made me feel extremely small and backward, and I've got three years of high school German and five ditto French. But nothing like their multilingual fluency.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

Long ago it was pointed out how gauche I was when I pronounced ad-ver-TIZE-ment. The australian way was advertis-ment.

Just lately I keep hearing on radio and tv mainly from denizens of USA ad-ver-TIZE-ment.