This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Nuts & Bolts: rhyming scones

Scone, for the purposes of this post, isn't the Australian slang word for head and neither does it encompass its connected meanings angry or insane.

It's not Scone the Scottish parish, either.

No, the scone we're talking about is the food item somewhere between a bun and a cake, made either in the oven or on a griddle, and usually split open and spread with...something.

File:Scones cream jam.jpg
photo of scones by Takeaway

Now, the question is, do you say scone to rhyme with bone or with Ron?

The online polling organisation YouGov has been doing a survey of the British Isles, and the answer is, of course, that it depends. Northern parts tend to go for the Ron pronunciation. Ireland is bone territory.

Overall, the Ron pronunciation is commoner (though not if you are considering the social class of the speaker).

What's really fascinating is that the pronunciation of a word for a sort of cake is reckoned important enough to be a) the subject of a YouGov survey and b) reported in national newspapers.

As it happens, Oxford Dictionaries has also found the subject worth studying (Oxford Dictionaries!and their poll had an international scope. It found that Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans favour the Ron pronunciation, but Americans favour bones. As it were.

The Oxford poll made one more discovery, too: it is that almost no one uses both pronunciations. This scone thing is a matter of deep passion and firmly drawn red lines.

And what I want to know is, for heaven's sake, why?

Word To Use Cautiously Today: scone. This word may come from the Dutch schoonbrood, fine white bread, from schoon, pure or clean; or it may come from the Scots Gaelic sgonn meaning a large mouthful or a shapeless mass. Some people even claim it for the Scots parish of Scone - which, by the way, is pronounced to rhyme with moon.

I don't mind which way people say scone, but the YouGov survey found that most people put the jam on their scone before the cream - which is absolutely ridiculous.

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