Sunday, June 14, 2009


It may be unenviable, but it sounds cool

About a minute into the audio of this item from Friday, about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a speech he was to give today, NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro says, “Netanyahu is in an unenviable position,” for having to balance the demands of those in favour of expanding Jewish settlements with pressure from the Obama administration to stop the expansion and talk to the Palestinian leaders.

I could say a lot about all this, from a political point of view (I agree with President Obama, here), but this post isn’t about that. It is, of all things, about the sounds of the words.

Note how Ms Garcia-Navarro has to say that in a somewhat exaggerated staccato in order to enunciate it clearly: “is in an un-en-viable position.” It’s too bad she didn’t take the opportunity to include “on”, as well, perhaps as, “When Netanyahu takes the podium for his speech, he will go on in an un-en-viable position.” That would have turned a verbal gem into a perfect diamond.

How often does one get to combine syllables like that so nicely? Is there a name for doing that, akin to rhyme or alliteration?

1 comment:

J Mark Pim said...

There is a name for it: consonance (, or more specifically homeoteleuton (

Isn't prosody fascinating? :)