Adheeding

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New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city in preparation for Hurricane Gustav. He had warned that such a move might be necessary on Thursday night, at a press conference with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. A clip of Nagin speaking at the press conference was played in a segment on NPR's "Morning Edition" on Friday. I've isolated some of the audio here:

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This is, this is serious business, and
we would not be calling for a mandatory evacuation
unless we thought there was a serious threat
and I think most people will adheed [æd'hid] to that.

Though he clearly said [æd'hid], NPR transcribed it rather differently in its online article:

"This is serious business. We would not be calling for a mandatory evacuation unless we thought there was a serious threat," Nagin said. "And I think most people will pay heed to that."

The NPR transcriber gave Nagin the benefit of the doubt, replacing nonstandard adheed with standard pay heed. But adheed is an intriguing formation not limited to Nagin's idiolect. It would appear to be a blend of (pay/give) heed and adhere, with semantic elements of both. A mandatory evacuation, after all, is something that residents should both pay heed to and adhere to. Here are a few online examples with the spelling adheed (the first one, as it happens, relating to hurricane warnings):

So maybe people did adheed to the good word of warning, therefore one would assume that the losses would be cut in half, if not more. (RPGForums.com)

but thanks for the warning…..I'll adheed to it, and be extra careful pulling up in my rental car, etc… (Roadfood.com forum)

I hope that someone adheed to comments placed and correct them before someone is hurt. (Citysearch)

On water bottles there is always an expiration date, is it crucial that I adheed to that? (Yahoo! Answers)

And it sometimes shows up spelled as adhede:

They can practice their religion but adhede to the laws of the land. (thoughts.com)

Adhede to this advice for success! (McKendree University Student Ambassadors)

Yet, she stubornly refused to adhede to their request, and rather insisted on her "right" to sit where she chooses. (RabbiHorowitz.com)

Pay/give heed and adhere share certain characteristics that make them ripe for blending: they are relatively low-frequency lexical items with overlapping semantic domains (paying attention to something vs. being devoted in supporting something) and similar syntactic frames (they both take prepositional phrase complements with to). Add to that the phonological overlap that allows the creation of the fused form [æd'hid] or [əd'hid], and the blendability seems almost overdetermined.

My apologies to embattled New Orleanians for focusing on a linguistic oddity as they face a potential reprise of Hurricane Katrina's devastation three years later. But hey, linguistic oddities are our bread and butter around here.

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11 Comments »

  1. Andy J said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 3:52 am

    In the last example "Yet, she stubornly refused to adhede to their request, and rather insisted on her "right" to sit where she chooses. (RabbiHorowitz.com)" I think another blend could be "accede"

  2. MSchmahl said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 7:58 am

    This term is interesting to me. Although I'm sure I'd never heard it before, I immediately felt familiar with it. Actually I might have encountered it before; it seems to have something in common with 'pay heed', 'adhere', and 'accede', but is subtly different.

    I wonder how long it will be before dictionaries decide to include this word.

  3. mike anderson said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 8:17 am

    For once, Mayor Nagin has said something frabjous!

  4. Q. Pheevr said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 8:44 am

    Even apart from the aptness of heed in this context, I can see why someone might produce adhede for adhere. If one's target is "the verb related to the noun adhesion," then the existence of pairs like decide/decision suggests adhede by analogy. (Of course, if you think of it as "the verb related to the noun adherence," then it's a lot easier to come up with the /r/.)

  5. Polly Glot said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    It doesn't sound like it on the audio version, but couldn't it be to add heed (add heed to the call)?

  6. language hat said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 9:29 am

    but couldn't it be to add heed

    1) There is no such expression.

    2) There is a verb adheed/adhede, as you can see from Ben's citations.

  7. Chris Waigl said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 11:22 am

    Though adhede could be a simple [ I just typed "dimple" ] mistyping for adhere, seeing that the keys are adjacent.

  8. Polly Glot said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    Hat said: There is no such expression

    What, you don't like to use expressions for the first time? I'm not reading your poetry.

  9. Andy J said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    @ Chris Waigl. As someone who regularly mistypes I can identify with your point, but of course in the specific case Benjamin raised (Mayor Nagel's press conference), this was a spoken occurence so there's no question of a typo, although your theory might account for some of the other examples quoted.

  10. Sam Henderson said,

    August 31, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    "Adhede" gets two hits on Google News Archives. One seems pretty clearly to be a typo for "adhere," but the other is glossed in-text as "accede," and is from Louisiana case law.

    I could also swear that I have heard this before — might just have been in a previous speech of Nagin's, though.

  11. Sili said,

    September 1, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

    Is this an easier mistake to make for rhotic speakers?

    I don't have the sprachgefühl to actually pick up much phonology.

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