The television stations have lately been running an ad for Capital One that I’ve seen several times now. This ad is the newest installation of the David Spade series, where he plays a smarmy telemarketer who says “no” to all of his clients’ requests. This time, Spade is responsible for teaching a trainee his method for turning everyone down. Spade gives the trainee a scenario or 2, and the guy says “no” after every one. Then Spade says, “Mix it up! Tic tac no! Ei-ei-no! Marco….” And the trainee responds, “Polno?”
Everytime I hear this I wonder, “Polno?” Why not “Pono”? Or “Nolo”? Or even “Nono”? Given Bob’s earlier discussion of blends, this one strikes me as odd. Why does the /l/ move from the onset of the second syllable to the coda of the first? Is it just that it makes the original word (Polo) more recoverable/recognizable?
I tell you, it’s tough to be a phonologist, since people around you are constantly talking…I can’t even watch TV in peace anymore. (It reminds me of one of my students last year who told me that after taking my class, he couldn’t stop himself from analyzing the phonetic characteristics of every person he spoke to. I guess it doesn’t take much exposure to the field.)