Monday, 3 April 2017

A sliver of butter

I went to the Ramsgate tunnels this weekend. It was interesting! Our tour guide was really, really enthusiastic. He talked quite fast, so sometimes I think he was making speech errors, but there were a couple of things that he said that I think were not errors but rather just interesting quirks. He had a couple of common mispronunciations like 'particliar', and sometimes he used the wrong word. But there were two things that I really liked.

One was that he pronounced gas mask as gas marks. This is called metathesis - he swapped round the /k/ and /s/ sounds, just like when people say aks instead of ask.

The other was weirder - he was talking about rationing, and he said that a family got just a very sliver of butter and a very sliver of meat. You can't use very that way! It can only modify adjectives and adverbs, not nouns! But it was clear he didn't just miss out small or something - he said it twice, there was no pause or anything. So... yeah. Unclear. It's a reasonably uncommon word, so that might be relevant. You can occasionally use very with a noun, like the very essence of the thing, but that's a slightly different thing... I really don't have any wisdom to offer here but I just wanted to point it out.


  1. It took me a while to understand why you had an 'r' in 'gas marks'. I'm thinking "shouldn't it be 'gas macks'? The BrE use of 'r' to mark a broad 'a' always gets me!

  2. Yeah, sorry! I did that because he pronounced it exactly the same way he would have pronounced 'marks', but obviously that doesn't translate well!