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In the UK, "blatant" rhymes with "patent", usually.

That's not true of the (adjective-derived) noun 'patent' as in 'letters patent', is it?

Yes, but some Brits pronounce the noun "patent" with a short a.
In AmE, I think the "blatant" pronunciation is more proper for the adjective, but the 'pat' pronunciation is heard more commonly. Let's hope that Erk's patents aren't patently obvious (= WolffE "lacking inventive step"???).

Rob Bannister
In the UK, "blatant" rhymes with "patent", usually.

And if they don't, perhaps some of the legal fundis here can tell us how they say "latent and patent defects".

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
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Anyway, I don't think there's ever an answer to "why" there's a pondal difference in pronunciation. What sort of answer could there be?

If we're being pedantic, there really isn't an answer to any question beginning with 'why'. I think such a question in this context(1) needs to be read as "How did such a difference come about?"

Not that I have an answer to that one, either.
How is it that the chicken came to cross the road?

(1) "patent" - US /'p&t @nt/ versus UK /'peIt @nt/

Mark Barratt
Angoltan=E1r budapesten
http://www.geocities.com/nyelvmark
Anyway, I don't think there's ever an answer to "why" there's a pondal difference in pronunciation. What sort of answer could there be?

If we're being pedantic, there really isn't an answer to any question

Well, no, I wouldn't say that unless you're being extremely literal and mean that at the instant a question is posed, its answer hasn't been created yet. Questions don't arrive already answered. But questions can be asked that can receive satisfactory answers, answers that satisfy the questioner.
What I meant was, is there any sort of answer that can satisfy such a question? Except to say "Some people say a word one way and some people say it another?"
Can you think of any word that has two accepted pronunciations (probably by geography, but not necessarily) where that can be explained? As in, the historical origin of the difference? I'd be interested in seeing an example.
beginning with 'why'. I think such a question in this context(1) needs to be read as "How did such a difference come about?" Not that I have an answer to that one, either.

Exactly.
How is it that the chicken came to cross the road? (1) "patent" - US /'p&t @nt/ versus UK /'peIt @nt/

Best Donna Richoux
If we're being pedantic, there really isn't an answer to any question

My question was poorly phrased. Rather than why "patent" is pronounced with /&/ in the US and /eI/ in the UK, it was why "latent" and "patient" didn't get the same treatment in AmE.

Ross Howard
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My question was poorly phrased. Rather than why "patent" is pronounced with /&/ in the US and /eI/ in the UK, it was why "latent" and "patient" didn't get the same treatment in AmE.

Because spelling has nothing to do with it. You explain to me why "save" doesn't rhyme with "have," or "to" with "no", or "how" with "show," or any of hundreds of such pairs, and then I'll explain to you why "patent" (as it happens to survive in the US) doesn't rhyme with "latent."

Your question assumes that words that look alike should rhyme. They don't. It also appears to assume that the Americans changed things. We don't know they did.
Did anyone ever end a rhyming couplet with "patent"?

By the way, M-W indicates that different meanings of the adjective "patent" can be pronounced different ways. Those who wish to see that should go to
http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=patent&x=14&y=1 2
They show that the "long a" ("pay") sound is available for all the meanings, and they mark several of the senses "chiefly British".

Best Donna Richoux
Anyway, I don't think there's ever an answer to "why" there's a pondal difference in pronunciation. What sort of answer could there be?

If we're being pedantic, there really isn't an answer to any question beginning with 'why'. I think such a question ... is it that the chicken came to cross the road? (1) "patent" - US /'p&t @nt/ versus UK /'peIt @nt/

Nevertheless, as has already been pointed out, those who work in the patent field in England, prefer the US pronunciation. I have a friend who works for a patent office in London, but I never checked to see whether he kept this pronunciation for other meanings as in "patently".

Rob Bannister
Nevertheless, as has already been pointed out, those who work in the patent field in England, prefer the US pronunciation.

So was there some known shift within recorded memory in which British patent practitioners decided to switch from the British pronunciation to the American pronunciation? And if so, for heavens' sake why?
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OK. How about the American pronunciation of 'herb' with the ... in some way by French (where all 'h's are silent).

All right, there's a glimmer of a start of a beginning. It's something you can at least speculate on, some ... a French-American influence existed? Are you thinking that the residents of Louisiana and Quebec affected the rest of the Yankees?

I was, actually, but...
Or that the English colonists preserved an old French way, but the Brits later adopted the "h"?

This seems to be the explanation Michael Quinion prefers:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-her1.htm
Why this word, and not others?

According to Bartelby (although not in my experience), it's also true of 'humble', 'human' and 'humo(u)r':
http://www.bartleby.com/64/C007/099.html
Where would one look for supporting evidence, how could it be shown (not just speculated)?

A tough one for this example, because an initial letter doesn't affect rhymes, which are usually our strongest evidence of long-ago pronunciations. Quinion doesn't give the basis on which he reached his conclusion - perhaps he found early documents in which there are discussions of these pronunciations.
I disagree, by the way, with your statement further down ... do with it". So, it appears, would Mark Israel: http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwordsw.html

There's nothing there about "patent," "latent," and "patient." I didn't say that spelling never has anything to do with anything, which is the best I can conclude by your referring me to an article that shows that sometimes it does.

But if you are conceding that pronunciation may be affected by spelling, what are your grounds for ruling it out in this instance?
My point is that people pronounce words the way they do, by and large, because that's the way they hear them pronounced.

Doesn't "by and large" here mean "not always"?
Americans don't pronounce "patent" the way they do because of its spelling, and they don't pronounce "latent" the way they do because of its spelling.

But this is disingenuous. It answers the "why" question literally, it's true, but not the intended question, which I already rephrased as "How did this difference come about?"
Therefore, an answer to why they pronounce the words two different ways is not going to be "their spelling."

But the answer to my rephrased version of the question might well be.
The question was raised because of the similarity in their spellings, but the answer would have to be somewhere else.

But you've already answered the "why" question trivially but accurately. The answer to the rephrased question might as well be "their spelling" as anything else unless you have information you're not sharing with us.
If we assume that it's the /'[email protected]/ pronunciation which is the original, then I've seen no grounds for eliminating the suggestion that the /'[email protected]/ pronunciation arose out of analogy with 'patient' and 'latent'.
Fond regards,

Mark Barratt
Angoltan=E1r budapesten
http://www.geocities.com/nyelvmark
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