In my post on reverse rhotacism I said I would have to add the term rhotacism to SID. I did so. Martin Ball commented on the post:
In old fashioned terminology, speech pathologists often termed problems with /r/ ‘rhotacism’, and problems with /s/ ‘sigmatism’.

I took that into account when writing the SID entry. I reproduce the relevant bit here:
(2) Formerly in speech pathology, the inability to produce the standard r sound of an accent. A familiar example in English is the use of ʋ (voiced labiodental approximant) instead of ɹ (post-alveolar).

I have since received an email from Jack Windsor Lewis asking (1) is this meaning of rhotacism really completely dead amongst speech pathologists? (2) what has replaced the term?

I don’t know the answer to either question. Can anyone help?

French gift

I’m sure you know that the French word for “gift” is cadeau, but have you ever asked yourself why? No? Well, I just did and was rather surprised by the answer. It is so different from the Italian (regalo/dono) and the Spanish (regalo) and the Portuguese (presente). It seems that it derives ultimately from Latin caput (=”head”). It got into French via Provençal, where the word appeared as capdel, deriving from capitellum in Latin. The original meaning of the 15th century French word was “capital letter”, or “calligraphic or rhetorical embellishment”. By the 17th century it had acquired the meaning “entertainment offered to a lady”. Its current meaning appeared in the 18th century.

Another surprise was that the Romanian for “gift” is cadou.

Aaaargh alert

I expect some of you have already seen this triumph of the education system, but in case you haven’t…

The Tesco supermarket chain has produced some sweatshirts or tee-shirts for small babies. One bears the legend:


Another reads: