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Re: SCHEmata (was: ambo, duo, etc.)

On Sun, Jul 01, 2001 at 03:32:53AM -0400, John Cowan wrote:
> Also, it is clear that "schemas" is stressed on the first syllable, whereas
> many (including me, until today) fall into error by stressing "schemata"
> on the second syllable rather than the correct first (all methods of
> pronouncing Greek words agree on this point).

... which sort of contradicts your relatively tolerant tone to date.

As a sometime lexicographer, I'm pained to see so many people here
using dictionaries and such as clamps to still their breath and give
them pause, rather than as occasionally useful tools to puff life into
their language, or into their understanding of the background to the
words which they and others use.

Language is yours: use it in any way that communicates, or even, if it
will achieve your end, in ways that don't.

If "schemas" and "schemata" are not both given as plurals in some
modern dictionary, write to the lexicographer and point out that both
are in use; and if the dictionary gives only SCHEMata as a
pronunciation, point out that many people pronounce it differently,
and that any but the smallest dictionary should really note the
variation. It's the lexicographer who is out of step, not you - and
certainly not the world whose language usage that lexicographer is
supposedly recording. Dictionaries are not ISO Standards or W3C
Recommendations, and human communication has little to fear from
variant spellings and pronunciation: we are *much* cleverer than the
computer programs which struggle so with not-well-formed XML and with
proprietary HTML extensions.

I wouldn't deny the utility of standardising terminology within
specific technical documents or sets of documents, but this discussion
has spilled over into comment on everyday language usage, and in the
process has become (in parts only, I hasten to note) ... well ... sad.

Oh - and don't take a lexicographer's word on anything :-)