What might be the correct pronunciation of the word collacon: KOL.a.kon or KOL.a.son? A collacon being a compilation of brief details related to a subject. Seemingly coined (collection + laconia = collacon) by Edward Parsons Day (Day's Collacon; 1884). My ear is attracted to KOL.a.son - similar to the word limacon (LIM.a.son) - but such pronunciation necessitates changing the c in laconia from hard to soft. Perhaps this is not done with roots. Thank you.

  • 4
    Limacon is originally a French word, limaçon. The cedilla (that funny thing you see beneath the "c") says that the "c" should be pronounced like an "s". The word was never spelled collaçon, so there is no grounds to pronounce the "c" like an "s". – Peter Shor Mar 17 '18 at 12:44
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not give an authoritative reference that the candidate is actually in the lexicon (and I can't find one). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 17 '18 at 14:31
  • 1
    From the author's preface: "so does the Compiler of this volume give vent to his egotism in proudly boasting of his abilities - not to write, but to appreciate the writings of others...years ago it was his good fortune to meet Mr. James Ellis, who had prepared a volume for publication under the title of "Laconia..." This production contained so many quotations that were adapted to this work, that an arrangement was at once entered into by which the manuscript was secured, and the author himself engaged to assist in completing the Collacon. This work being a collection of extracts in prose" – Bread Mar 17 '18 at 15:01
  • 2
    @Bread, In keeping with that, I did find this interesting online commentary, from a GH Scheetz - ‎1976: digitalcommons.butler.edu/cgi/… So, the c is hard. – Lambie Mar 17 '18 at 15:06
  • 1
    Whoops, I can't find the thesis or paper from which that is taken, unfortunately....it does seem to be a nonce word. – Lambie Mar 17 '18 at 15:48

The only earlier use of "collacon" I can find in Google books is in some editions of Samuel Pepys' diaries, where he wrote of "a collacon of cheesecakes, tarts, custards, ..." In other editions, it's "a collacion of cheesecakes, tartes, custards, ..." Here "collacon" is undoubtedly a typo or slip of the pen for "collacion" (an old spelling of "collation"); I don't know whether this typo originated with Pepys or a later publisher.

"Collacion" is an old spelling a "collation", one of whose meanings (according to the OED) is "a light meal or repast". If Samuel Day did take the word from Pepys, it probably means "a collection," which is one of the meanings of "collation". Possibly he thought "collacon" was an obsolete version of the word. I don't know how Day would have pronounced it. I don't see any justification for KOL.a.son, but you could make arguments for either KOL.a.con or kol.AY.shun.

| improve this answer | |
  • While I voted for both answers given, may I point out that collation in this context probably means a "collection" or "assemblage". My interest was sparked so I investigated "collacion" and found that it was Spanish for "vicinity" or "neighborhood". archive.org/details/A10914607 translate.google.com/#auto/en/… However, I really can't fathom why Mr. Day titled his book "Collacon", and I agree that it must have been a misspelling of collation. – Bread Mar 17 '18 at 14:06
  • @Bread: I thought "collation" also meant a collection, but I see I was wrong. Edditing. – Peter Shor Mar 17 '18 at 14:12
  • It seems that some English writers chose to give collation a European flavor, so to speak, by spelling it collacon, despite not having the proper typography for accuracy. Unless the writers themselves had European backgrounds of which I'm unaware. – Bread Mar 17 '18 at 14:12
  • @ Peter Shor - Collation does mean collection, doesn't it? I don't understand why you say that you're wrong about that. – Bread Mar 17 '18 at 14:14
  • In Spanish, to this day, una colación is used to mean a light "meal or repast". But in that sense, only takes a single l. And in Portuguese, as well, colação. – Lambie Mar 17 '18 at 14:16

Your word limacon is a “misspelling” of limaçon, which is the preferred form used by those who are not typographically challenged with a telegraph’s ancient keyboard. As with soupçon and Curaçao, you must retain the original cedilla or lest it be mispronounced.

This is because English no more allows the letter combination ‹co› to represent phonemic /so/ than do French or Portuguese. So you have to respell it somehow, whether as ‹ss› or ‹ç› or something similar. (Romance-derived words spelled with ‹ç› do so for reasons rooted in certain phonological changes from Latin to Romance that aren’t really germane here.)

Our own word laconic derives from Lacōnia in Latin transliterating the Ancient Greek Λακωνία, the name of the Greek Peloponnesian region whose capital was for millennia Sparta. There is no diachronic reason that /ko/ would come to be pronounced /so/ there.

English did once see the imported limaçon spelled as limasson to deal with this issue, but alas no longer. It seems a better solution than confusing people. What can I say? “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” :)

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose." "The more things change, the more they remain the same." en.wiktionary.org/wiki/… (One of my favorite sayings.) – Bread Mar 17 '18 at 13:12
  • 1
    But you're probably more likely to see it spelled limacon, if these Google Ngrams are to be believed. English people are used to pronouncing words correctly even when they've lost their original accents (or are/seem in the process of doing so). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 17 '18 at 14:51

Thanks to all of you who replied. I will never accept that collacon is a nonce word. Made up for an occasion (1884 book title) it was, but its derivation is sound and it merely awaits further fair use. The pronunciation troubled me, still does. Lambie is probably correct - a hard (KOL.a.kon) not a soft (KOL.a.son) for the second c. But my ear still hears a little imp whispering son son son to me. Aaaah, just a cidilla short. That's how it goes I suppose when you work listening to Johnny Hallyday - the late French Elvis (see THE FRENCH COLLACON for his details) ....au revoir.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.