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More about spellings, shortcuts this time
Do you mic a singer, or mike him? And are you in synch, or in sync?
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2013/12/17
1:56pm
Bob Bridges
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This talk about British spellings reminds me that I've recently (in the last decade or two) switched the way I handle verbs that are shortened to something ending in '-c'.  I used to think that a microphone is a "mike"; I've decided it's actually a "mic".  In the present I "mic" someone; in the past I "miked" him, the spelling changing to retain the hard 'k' sound.

Likewise I think the Brits say that something is "in sync", but add back the missing 'h' in the past tense ("synched").  Me, I rule that the 'h' is part of the final consonant, so I spell it "synch" even in the present tense.

Modifying the spelling to match the pronunciation is done all the time in Spanish, but it doesn't come up much in English.  About the only example that comes immediately to mind is "panic"; it's necessary to add a 'k' before 'e' and 'i' ("panicking", "panicked" and "panicky").  I know I've run across other words like that in English, but none come to mind just now.

2013/12/17
11:59pm
tromboniator
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I haven't looked it up, but I staunchly maintain that a microphone was always a mike until relatively recently – I dunno, the last couple of decades or so? My kids, all born in the early 80s, tell me that it's "always" been mic. I think the first time I saw mic was on a sign in front of a bar, advertising "Open Mic Night." I wondered then, and I still wonder when I see it now, "What the heck is an open mick?" My brain simply refuses to make the i long – maybe because of Bic pens? – and I literally have to translate it to mike before I can make sense of it.

2013/12/18
3:44am
deaconB
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I haven't looked it up, but I staunchly maintain that a microphone was always a mike until relatively recently – I dunno, the last couple of decades or so? My kids, all born in the early 80s, tell me that it's "always" been mic. I think the first time I saw mic was on a sign in front of a bar, advertising "Open Mic Night." I wondered then, and I still wonder when I see it now, "What the heck is an open mick?" My brain simply refuses to make the i long – maybe because of Bic pens? – and I literally have to translate it to mike before I can make sense of it.

2013/12/18
7:52am
faresomeness
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Perhaps "mic" as an ethnic slur has mostly disappeared, leaving an opening for it's more benign use as shorthand for microphone? Ben Zimmer, who succeeded William Saffire as author of the NY Times "On Language" column, wrote the following:

Mike came first, documented from the early days of radio. In the June 1923 issue of The Wireless Age, a photo caption of Samuel L. Rothafel (who was known as Roxy and who was broadcasting concert programs from New York's Capitol Theater) reads, "When you hear Roxy talk about 'Mike' he means the microphone." This suggests the abbreviation arose as a kind of nickname, playfully anthropomorphizing the microphone as Mike. But by 1926, when the pioneering broadcaster Graham McNamee published his book "You're on the Air," mike appeared in lowercase, not as a name. During broadcasts of baseball games, McNamee wrote, "the man at the 'mike' watches each play."

Mic didn't begin appearing in written works for another few decades, first recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary in Al Berkman's 1961 "Singers' Glossary of Show Business Jargon." Berkman offered both mike and mic as possible clippings of microphone. Since then, mic has grown in popularity among those who work with recording equipment. The preference for mic likely stems from the way the abbreviation is rendered on the equipment itself: a microphone might be labeled "Mic No. 1," for instance. And if you're in the market for a microphone preamplifier, you'll find it written as "mic preamp."

-NY Times Magazine, July 29 2010.

Here's a link to the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/magazine/01-onlanguage-t.html

 

 

 
2013/12/18
1:17pm
Bob Bridges
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Now this I didn't expect.  Ok, guys, thanks; I don't know whether I'll abandon "mic" and return to "mike" (I may decide I like "mic" better anyway), but it's good to know regardless.

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