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Steeple vs. Staple
Pronounciation Differences
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2013/10/02
1:32pm
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In the midwest, many people (farmers/ranchers) pronounce the fastener driven into a post for holding wire as steeple. I grew up that way too. Here are a couple of websites noting the differing pronounciation: a topic thread and a blog.

Note: I do pronounce the little wires puncturing and bent to hold papers together as staple.

Both of them have their corresponding verb forms.

The OED has quotations starting in 1722.

Emmett

2013/10/04
9:57am
larrfirr
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I distinctly remember when I was at a campground in Indiana, the bus driver making announcements to a bus full of tourists saying “What’s a matter, are you deef”     It was a pronounciation I had never heard and I still remember it 30 years later.

 

2013/10/04
11:18am
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Ron Draney
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Have you ever been to Deaf Smith County in the Texas panhandle? Named for a 19th-century soldier and scout Erastus “Deaf” Smith, whose nickname was pronounced “deef”, the local pronunciation of the county itself fluctuates from one resident to the next.

2013/10/04
12:39pm
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According to http://www.morewords.com/ there only three words or root words (thirteen if you count all variations) of the form ‘*eaf’: deaf, leaf, and sheaf. The prounonciation of “eaf” favors “eef” two-to-one.

I also looked at the 78 words of the form ‘*eat’. The 25 which seemed to be to be words or root words are: beat, bleat, caveat, cheat, cleat, compleat, eat, feat, great, heat, hereat, meat, neat, orgeat, peat, pleat, seat, sweat, meat, teat, thereat, threat, treat, wheat, and whereat. Three have two syllable endings, one has the long ‘a’ sound, and one is french derived and is pronounced differently in Britian and the US (orgeat – barley or a liquid derived from it). In the rest, the long ‘eet’ sound is favored sixteen-to-two over the short ‘et’ sound.

‘Deaf’, ‘sweat’, and ‘threat’ are the ones in these uses of ‘ea’ that do not follow the two-vowels-in-a-row-makes-the-first-one-long-rather-than-short. (And, yes, I know many other words that do not follow that rule.)

Emmett

2013/10/05
12:32am
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RobertB
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It seems when southerners do emphasis using nasal pressure, lots of sounds come out pretty close to ‘ee.’ For instance, ‘I ain’t glad, I am mad as hell !’ might push toward this :’ ah een gleet, ah meed eez heel ! ‘

2013/10/11
10:25pm
maxson123
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okay that is very nice information to me i will thank to you that i have to know today at your thread that It was a pronunciation I had never heard and I still remember it 30 years later….

2013/10/24
6:01pm
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deaconB
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It was explained to me half a century ago that if you ha a stapler or a staple gun, it was pronounced staple, but if you were mashing your fingers with fencing pliers or a hammer, it was pronounced steeple.     A joke followed, saying that’s because you would need a steeple in your future because of the vocabulary you’d be exercising. I think he made up that joke himself; I never heard it again.   (But he was right about mashed thumbs and fingers.)

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