Monday, June 30, 2008


So, is it "roofs" or "rooves" for you? Both in spelling and in pronunciation. Dwarfs or dwarves? Halfs or halves?

Also does the vowel in roof sound closer to the vowel in tooth or the vowel in book or woof woof (depending on how you say woof woof)?

For the phonetically inclined, in the first question, I'm asking if the last fricative is voiced or voiceless, which means "are your vocal cords vibrating?" which is the difference between f and v. For the second question, I'm asking if the vowel is a tense high back rounded vowel (booth, true, woo) or lax high back rounded (book, cook, hook). Tense versus lax here is the degree to which your lips are rounded and just how high and back your tongue is (or how far down and close together formants 1 and 2 are).


Robin S. said...

This is an interesting one.

I spell 'roofs' and say "rufes'.
I've never seen "rooves" as a spelling - that I paid attention to, anyway.

I spell halves and say "haves" with a soft a, as in has/have.

I spell dwarfs and it sounds just like it looks to me.

Does that mean I've been inconsistent?

I love these linguistics posts.

McKoala said...

Voiced for me. Although I think 'rooves' is in the process of changing to voiceless at the moment - not just me, generally.

And it's a roof and a tooth and a woof.

I was on the roof
When I lost my tooth
Then the dog said woof
And guzzled my tooth

Mamaebeth said...

i don't know... now that you have asked, i can't think of which way i say it. i think i say rooves. i don't know if i have ever spelled it, so lets go with rooves.
the vowel sounds like tooth.

the only time i can think of when i would use the plural is "oh, look! there is frost on the roofs." oh look, i used roofs. i stand corrected. i think i might use a sort of soft v sound... it has a little bit of f at the beginning and ends with a little v.

writtenwyrdd said...

Actually, for me it's switch it up. But I do say roof and oil in the funny southern way where it's ruhvs and ruhf, or oil is ohl, for example.

Sammy Jankis said...

I'd spell roofs but pronounce rooves, so I guess that makes me a geographical oddity. Sound is same as tooth.

Precie said...

1) I can't recall an instance in which I've used the term "roofs" in conversation.

2) Frankly, in my particular case, I think it would depend on what words preceded "roofs" in my speech. I suspect that I'd say "rooves" if it were preceded by a tense sound like the /z/ in "those." So I'd say rooves as in "Those roofs were damaged."

But with soft preceding words, I'd say roofs, as in "Shingles have come off all the roofs along this block."

I think.

pjd said...

I'm with Robin on all counts, though I am OK with dwarves (the Tolkein spelling) or dwarfs (the Disney spelling).

Robin S. said...

MCk - you sound like John (my DH).

He says roof and tooth with the "oo" sound the same - sounds like a soft/short "u" sound.

Of course I make mad fun of him.

Whoever heard of a tuthbrush? Apparently- you and John have.

Ello said...

The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on Fire! Burn M----- F----- Burn!

My contribution to the conversation. So did ya miss me?

Sarah Laurenson said...

dwarves, halves and roofs (like tooth). Though I don't remember ever spelling the plural of roof, I know I've never written rooves.