or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Regarding Thursday's post, Tony Pius says:

This reminds me of another transposition that I see far more often than I ought: "dias" for "dais." My writers who perpetrate this atrocity do indeed pronounce it "die-ass."

I have to assume that they first saw the word while reading a fantasy novel as a kid, heard it incorrectly in their heads, and have used the wrong pronunciation for so long that it's become set in concrete. It's not as if someone's going to correct them on their pronunciation. Because, save for the Interior Decorator to Her Majesty, who uses "dais" in conversation these days?

"Dias", though it is wrong and annoying, doesn't get too deeply under my skin, because 1) it's one of the more understandable errors, based as it is on the much commoner "bias", and 2) the word, as you note, just isn't that often seen.

But it does show up (correctly). In one of those amusing coincidences that some people attribute to mysterious forces at work in the universe (but I attribute to the fact that a lot of things happen and humans are pattern-matching animals), I saw it just yesterday, on a map for Halifax's Natal Day Parade.

Jim and I both have time off from work simultaneously--Monday is a civic holiday in most of Canada--and we're heading to Halifax for a couple of days. Jim was wondering what there might be to do, and so looked up the Natal Day schedule; there's a map for the parade (it's here, but it's a PDF, so don't feel you have to look at it or anything), and right there on the map is the word DAIS. And it's spelled correctly!

I'm not attributing this to any moral superiority, but Canada isn't quite as corporately bought-and-sold as America is, so I'm mildly horrified that Natal Day is no longer just Natal Day; now it's Alexander Keith's Natal Day, Alexander Keith's being a brand of beer. And the parade has similarly been purchased by corporate money: it's the Pepsi Natal Day Parade. And I don't even drink either product: no wonder I'm skipping the parade altogether. I'll hang around for the fireworks, though.


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