The pronunciation of the word “homage” has been a subject of debate and evolution over the years. While the most common pronunciation listed in dictionaries is HOM-ij, with stress on the first syllable and a sounded h, variations like OM-ij and oh-MAHZH with a silent h are also becoming increasingly prevalent. This shift in pronunciation can be observed through historical records, such as the Google Ngram Viewer, which indicates a change around 1800 from the silent h to the more traditional pronunciation we recognize today.
Prescriptive Standardization vs. Actual Pronunciation
The change in pronunciation around 1800 coincides with the period when English pronunciation began to be standardized, particularly with the works of John Walker and Thomas Sheridan. This shift may reflect a prescriptive standardization rather than an immediate change in how people pronounced the word “homage.” The evolution of language and pronunciation is often influenced by various factors, including linguistic trends and cultural shifts.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has played a role in documenting the evolving pronunciation of “homage.” While most U.S. dictionaries list HOM-ij as the primary pronunciation, Merriam-Webster has noted the increasing prevalence of the OM-ij pronunciation. This shift in emphasis from the traditional pronunciation with the initial “h” to the variant without it reflects the dynamic nature of language and how it adapts over time.
Historical Context and French Influence
The pronunciation of “homage” also reflects its historical roots and French influence. The initial “h” in homage is an English innovation, as the French /h/ had disappeared by the time of the Norman Conquest. Over time, spelling pronunciation and linguistic changes reintroduced the “h” sound to words like homage, aligning them more closely with their French origins. This linguistic evolution is a common phenomenon in the development of languages.
Recent Trends and Variations
Recent trends in the pronunciation of “homage” suggest a shift towards the oh-MAHZH pronunciation, which is more faithful to the French original. This pronunciation is particularly associated with the newer sense of an artistic tribute. The evolving usage of the word reflects how language continues to adapt and incorporate influences from different sources, highlighting the dynamic nature of linguistic evolution.
As language evolves, so do pronunciations and meanings of words like “homage.” The variations in pronunciation reflect the rich history and cultural influences that shape language over time. Whether pronounced as HOM-ij, OM-ij, or oh-MAHZH, the word “homage” continues to be a part of our linguistic landscape, adapting to changing trends and influences.
1. What is the most common pronunciation of the word “homage”?
The most common pronunciation listed in dictionaries is HOM-ij, with stress on the first syllable and a sounded h.
2. How has the pronunciation of “homage” evolved over time?
The pronunciation of “homage” has shifted from a silent h to the more traditional pronunciation with the initial h, reflecting changes in linguistic trends and standardization.
3. Why is there a variation in the pronunciation of “homage”?
Variations in the pronunciation of “homage” can be attributed to historical influences, linguistic evolution, and the reintroduction of French pronunciation elements into English.
4. What role do dictionaries like Merriam-Webster play in documenting pronunciation trends?
Dictionaries like Merriam-Webster track and document changes in pronunciation trends, reflecting the evolving nature of language and how words are spoken and understood.
5. How does the pronunciation of “homage” reflect its historical roots?
The pronunciation of “homage” reflects its historical roots and French influence, with variations in pronunciation highlighting the linguistic evolution of the word over time.
6. What does the evolving pronunciation of “homage” suggest about language change?
The evolving pronunciation of “homage” suggests that language is dynamic and constantly adapting to new influences, reflecting the cultural and historical context in which words are used and understood.