Dogged and Doggedly

By Maeve Maddox

Any uncertainty about the pronunciation of the adjective dogged and the adverb doggedly usually centers on whether to pronounce the -ed as a separate syllable, so I was surprised the other day to hear an announcer on a classical music station have trouble with the double g.

The announcer, a young one, judging by his uncertain delivery and the sound of his voice, was reading a program note about a composer who had “worked doggedly” on some composition. The announcer pronounced doggedly–with some difficulty–as [DOJ-ed-ly].

Doggedly [DOG-id-lee] is an adverb corresponding to the adjective dogged [DOG-id].

dogged (adjective): having the persistence or tenacity characteristic of some breeds of dog; obstinate, stubborn, resolute.

doggedly (adverb): With the persistence of a dog; obstinately, stubbornly; resolutely.

Most English words spelled with double g followed by ed are pronounced as one syllable, for example:

bagged [BAGd]
The hunter bagged a deer.

nagged [NAGd]
Her husband nagged her to lose weight.

plugged [PLUGd]
The cook plugged the holes in the kitchen baseboard with aluminum foil.

rigged [RIGd]
The children rigged a tent with bed sheets.

In each of these examples the double-g word is the past tense of a verb.

A few double-g words–like dogged–are adjectives. In these words, the ed is pronounced as a separate syllable:

jagged [JAG-id]
The garment was ruined by a jagged cut down the center.

rugged, ragged [RUG-id, RAG-id]
Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.

bowlegged [boh-LEG-id]
The stereotypical cowboy is bowlegged.

Here are some examples of the usage of dogged and doggedly:

Those born on March 19 have the dogged persistence needed to achieve their ends and know how to use their charm and allure to help them.

The same dogged determination that drove tech entrepreneur Steve Jobs to control every aspect of Apple’s products […] might have also led to his personal downfall.

Suzanne Spaak worked doggedly to save the lives of Jewish children who were facing deportation to the German death camps.

The Queen Mary battered her way through the storm with her decks awash. Lily Pons, clutching a rope, sang doggedly through the night.

Because the words dogged and doggedly are synonymous with stubborn and stubbornly, it’s redundant to talk about “dogged stubbornness,” but people do it:

The shy, childlike appearance of Pilar Primo de Rivera belied her dogged stubbornness.

It is also pertinent that although he wasn’t physically strong, he was endowed with such dogged stubbornness that he achieved what he wanted.

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11 Responses to “Dogged and Doggedly”

  • thebluebird11

    Couple of bits of input:
    1. Dogged (DOG-ed) can be used to mean tenacious, but I don’t think tenacious is necessarily synonymous with stubborn, so I’m not convinced that “dogged stubbornness” is redundant. One can certainly be tenacious, or persistent, without being stubborn. I would like to hear what other people think.
    2. Dogged (DOGD) can also be a verb, highlighting the behavior of a dog that tags along right at your heels and doesn’t let up. They dog you, in other words. Someone who is breathing down your neck (literally or figuratively) is dogging you, and you are being dogged (1 syllable) by that person.
    3. Liked dogged (DOGD), ragged (RAGD) can also be a verb. Used colloquially (slang?) to mean to get on someone’s case, tease/insult, or the like, people rag on other people, and people can be ragged (RAGD) on. Context 🙂

    Can’t see why anyone, least of all someone supposedly qualified to be an announcer on public radio, would not be able to pronounce “dogged” correctly, at least getting the hard G correct, if not the syllabification. Grrrrrrr.

  • Maeve

    bluebird,
    Good addition. I neglected to note that “dog” can be a verb, in which case the past form “dogged” would be pronounced with one syllable.

    The announcer may have simply be nervous/had never seen the word before/knew better but had a mental freeze. Even though I illustrate these posts with other people’s errors, I hesitate to be too critical. Too many typos slip through on me, no matter how many times I read through before hitting Send. This post is a case in point.

    On the other hand, it does seem that broadcast journalists and announcers who read from prepared copy could do a run-through before going live.

  • venqax

    Most English words spelled with double g followed by ed are pronounced as two syllables, for example:
    bagged [BAGd]…nagged [NAGd]…plugged [PLUGd]…rigged [RIGd]

    Aren’t those one syllable?

    It does make you wonder what the listed qualifications for announcing jobs must be. Are there any at all? It’s not just mangling of foreign names or scientific terms. It is often relatively common English words, like dogged, that seem to stump some of these people. I remember one announcer relating a story about old merry-go-rounds who kept calling them cor-sells.

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  • D.A.W.

    No, Maeve, in North American English, the words are pronounced as follows:

    dogged: dog-ged
    doggedly: dog-ged-ly
    jagged: jag-ged
    rugged: rug-ged
    ragged: rag-ged
    long-legged: long-leg-ged
    short-legged: short-leg-ged

    As in the general case, most polysyllabic words with double consonants have divisions of the syllables BETWEEN the double letters. (Two-syllable words are included.) For example:
    Con-nec-ti-cut; Mis-sis-sip-pi; Mis-sou-ri; Il-li-nois; Ten-nes-see; po-ly-syl-la-bic; As-syr-i-an; Hit-tite; ten-nis; soc-cer; Jack the Rip-per; sap-per; es-say; as-say; bat-ten; diz-zy;
    yel-low-bel-lied sap-suc-ker.

    Perhaps this division of the syllables is something that makes North American English sound different from British English.
    There are other things, such as the British putting the stress on the wrong syllables!

    “ragged” is also a verb in the past tense.
    For example: The fans of the Texas team ragged Arkansas all the way through the game, long and loudly.

    I believe that in Spanish, double letters are generally divided into syllables between double consonants, with the exception of “rr”, but “rr” is considered to be a separate letter in the Spanish alphabet. You can even get Spanish Scrabble games with “rr” on some of the tiles. That comes in handy for words like “perro” = “dog”, and not “pero” = “but”.

    In German polysyllabic words, double consonants are generally divided into separate syllables, with the exception of “ss”, and there is a special symbol of “ss” in the German alphabet. It looks like a capital Greek “beta”.
    For example “ein biBchen” = “a little bit”.

  • Maeve

    Dear all who pointed out my error regarding the number of syllables in one-syllable words like “bagged” and “nagged”:

    I had the gaffe corrected as soon as I could! You may think I don’t proof these posts, but I DO, numerous times. Sometimes I think there’s such a thing as a cloak of invisibility for errors. The error flings it off at the instant the post is published.

    Thanks for pointing it out. I really appreciate your input.

  • Maeve

    Venqax,
    YES. It was an ERROR. They get past me no matter what I do. It has been corrected.

    D.A.W.,
    Look again at what I said about “jagged” and the others:
    “A few double-g words–like dogged–are adjectives. In these words, the ed is pronounced as a separate syllable.” That makes “DOG-id, JAG-id,” etc.

    I do my best, Guys.

  • venqax

    I do my best, Guys.Whe
    And you do exceedingly well, Maeve!

    DAW: You are confusing syllable division with pronunciation notation. Writing that jagged is pronounced JAG-ED as opposed to JAG’D is not the same as saying anything about where the 2 syllables of the word would be divided. You don’t pronounce the G twice, the second syllable is perfectly pronounceable without it, so writing that it is pronounced JAG-GED is unnecessary and if anything KON-FYOO-ZING or KONF-YOOZ-ING.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Maeve, the point that I was making was the following:

    “A few double-g words–like dogged–are adjectives. In these words, the ed is pronounced as a separate syllable.”
    This is quite incorrect.
    The “ed” is not pronounced as a separate syllable. You have left something out. The last syllable of the word is “ged”.
    You might call that Southern English, but I have lived for lenghty periods, also, in the Mid-Atlantic States, in the Midwestern States, in the Rocky Mountain States, and on the West Coast – namely in California. This feature is everywhere.
    Look at these other two-syllable adjectives, too:
    wret-ched, em-bed-ded, traf-fic (as in a traffic circle), rum-mage (as in a rummage sale), run-ning (as in a running total), wrap-ping (as in wrapping paper), jar-ring (as in a jarring pronunciation), Rus-sian, Se-at-tle, raz-zle (as in razzle paint, a form of camouflage sometimes used in warfare).

    Venqax: Put away your weed. The hyphens placed in the words above are the divisions of the syllables, and the letters on both sides of the hyphens are pronounced in two separate syllables.
    Go swim with the sharks.

    Also, pay some respect to those who are older and better educated. It takes a lot of hard word to earn three college degrees, including two in graduate school.
    D.A.W.

  • Maeve

    DAW,
    As venqax pointed out several comments above this one, “You are confusing syllable division with pronunciation notation.”

    If I wanted to divide the adjective “dogged” into syllables, I would hyphenate it this way: dog-ged.

    If I wanted to divide “wretched” into syllables, I would write it:
    wretch-ed. I would not break the tch into t-ch because it tch is a single phonogram in this word. The -ed has been added to the noun “wretch.”

  • dragonwielder

    @DAW – Maeve is incorrect? Really? Not according to my dictionaries – their pronunciation keys say “dog’ id” (dogged), “rum’ ij” (rummage), “raz’ el” (razzle), etc.

    Venqax is also correct, syllable division is different from pronunciation notation. When I see hyphens between syllables, like you’re using, that indicates to me where the syllable break is. If, however, I took that to be a pronunciation guide, I would think the G or the M (or whatever the double letter is) is pronounced twice.

    Maybe I should go back to college and get that linguistics doctorate…don’t want people to think I don’t know what I’m talking about, after all.

    As to the article topic – Maeve, thanks for another great post! I have to echo bluebird, it’s hard to believe people don’t know how to pronounce “dogged” and other similar words. Also, I feel your pain with typos and other errors…that happens to me at work as well, more often than I like to admit.

  • Andy Knoedler

    This one isn’t that hard to figure out. The original mispronouncer simply looked at “dogged” and saw “dodged.” It boils down to dyslexia.

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