linguoboy wrote:Most recent word I got wrong was apoptosis. I assumed antepenultimate stress by analogy with words like apocalypse, apostrophe, and apocryphal when the correct models are medical terms like thrombosis and acidosis.
When I first read the word I assumed penultimate but then I realised antepenultimate is perfectly plausible too and that's how it is indeed in Greek. I know you're basing it on Latin but when I see a Greek word I just interpret it through Greek and btw there's something really unintuitive about Greek stress I almost always get it wrong with unknown words, especially toponyms, if the stress isn't marked.
The topic of stress for -osis
words just came up in the "How do You Pronounce X" thread. Almost all of these words do appear to follow Latin in using penult stress (which follows from the Latin stress rule and the original length of the "o"), but there is one word that is an exception (for most people), metamorphosis.
More generally, while polysyllabic -sis
words seem to follow the Latin stress rule based on the Greek quantity by default, there are many other puzzling exceptions like "myiasis", which the OED says is "Brit. /ˈmʌɪ(ɪ)əsɪs/, /mʌɪɪˈeɪsɪs/" with the suffix "< Latin -ă
sis, Greek -ᾱ
σις [sic!]", and other -asis
words in general, which for some reason always seem to be pronounced as if the "a" were short in Latin, even when they come from words with a long alpha in Greek. I still haven't figured out what pronunciation I want to use for "myiasis", although I'm leaning most towards /ˈmaɪ.əsɪs/ as my understanding is that the "yi" represents a Greek diphthong rather than separate vowels in hiatus.
One thing that annoys me is when people pronounce apoptosis
as "apotosis" because the word ptosis
is pronounced "tosis". It's not like we pronounce helicopter
as "helicoter", even though "pterodactyl" is "terodactyl". But I guess I don't have much of a leg to stand on because, on the other hand, I don't pronounce the p in "antipsychotic" or "biopsychology". Debate about the pronunciation of apoptosis
is recorded in its OED entry, which indicates that the "p"-less pronunciation is actually the original one, although I find the supposed pedagogical advantage that motivated the choice of this pronunciation unconvincing:
OED wrote:1972 J. F. R. Kerr et al. in Brit. Jrnl. Cancer 26 241 (note) We are most grateful to Professor James Cormack of the Department of Greek, University of Aberdeen, for suggesting this term. The word ‘apoptosis’ (ἁπόπτωσισ) [sic [this 'sic' is from the OED, not from me]] is used in Greek to describe the ‘dropping off’ or ‘falling off’ of petals from flowers, or leaves from trees. To show the derivation clearly, we proposed that the stress should be on the penultimate syllable, the second half of the word being pronounced like ‘ptosis’ (with the ‘p’ silent), which comes from the same root ‘to fall’, and is already used to describe drooping of the upper eyelid.
On the pronunciation compare also:
1994 Nature 28 Sept. 98/2 The ‘p’ in ptosis is silent, and on that basis students are commonly exhorted to pronounce apoptosis as apo'tosis... The silent ‘p’, however, appears neither correct nor attractive in words in which the Greek-derived ‘pt’ occurs in the middle of a composite word.
Kerr et al.'s argument seems to me to be based on the same kind of rejection of any kind of allomorphy that causes some people to insist that "KIL-ometer" must be preferable to "ki-LOM-eter", because the stress goes on the same part of the prefix as in "KIL-ogram". While I don't particularly object to KIL-ometer, ki-LOM-eter follows the same pattern as psy-CHOL-logy (vs. PSY-chopath) and many other words, so I think it's kind of misguided to denounce it as an illogical or corrupt, or to insist that it is an undesirable pronunciation. I didn't even know the word "ptosis" or its Greek etymon when I first encountered the word apoptosis,
so hearing the p-less pronunciation wouldn't have made the derivation any clearer for me at all.