So does this make Foghorn Leghorn a non-rhoticity chicken?

Via jaylake, Language Log has an entertainingly ranty post about the “I before E, except after C…” spelling rule and a recent suggestion by the British government that the rule is not worth teaching.

It’s a digression from the rant’s main point, but the following parenthetical caught my attention:

The word “weird” is sometimes cited as an exception [to the rule], but in British English it is not: the <ei> represents the diphthong [ɪə], not the monophthong [i:]. (There might be analyses of rhotic dialects like American English that treat “weird” as [wi:rd]; in that case you could say “weird” is an exception.)

“Rhotic”? I had to look that one up. According to Wikipedia, a “rhotic speaker” pronounces the R in words like hard and water; a non-rhotic speaker doesn’t. Thus one could say of Ted Kennedy that he exhibits “non-rhoticity,” which makes me laugh.

One interesting implication of this (assuming Wikipedia’s not pulling my leg) is that the hesitation-words “er” and “uh,” when uttered by a non-rhotic speaker, have identical pronunciations. Weird indeed.

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