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vocal cords vs. vocal chords

English translation: vocal cords

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14:01 May 19, 2005
English to English translations [PRO]
Music / Spelling
English term or phrase: vocal cords vs. vocal chords
I've recently noticed - particularly in the music press - that "vocal cords" is increasingly spelt "vocal chords", which I have always seen as being incorrect. I've just Googled them and found that there are twice as many "vocal chords" as "vocal cords" (unless "vocal chords" has a different meaning). I then looked up "Stimmband" in my Langenscheidt and found - horror of horrors - "vocal chord"!

Can anyone confirm whether both are acceptable or whether this is just a very well established error.

Many thanks


Ian
xxxIanW
Local time: 04:54
English translation:vocal cords
Explanation:
Webster's 3rd

cord
3 a : an anatomical structure resembling a cord; especially : TENDON, NERVE — see SPERMATIC CORD, SPINAL CORD, UMBILICAL CORD, VOCAL CORDS b : a small flexible insulated electrical cable usually consisting of a pair of insulated stranded wires twisted together and having a plug at one or both ends used to connect a lamp, electric iron, toaster, or other appliance with a receptacle


Main Entry:1chord
Pronunciation:*k*(*)rd, -*(*)d
Function:noun
Inflected Form:-s
Etymology:alteration (influenced by 3chord) of cord, from Middle English, short for accord


: a combination of two or more tones sounded together, especially tones that blend harmoniously because of the simple ratios of their pitch frequencies; specifically : COMMON CHORD

Main Entry:vocal cords
Variant:also vocal bands
Function:noun plural

: either of two pairs of folds of mucous membrane that project into the cavity of the larynx and have free edges extending dorsoventrally toward the middle line: a : FALSE VOCAL CORDS b or vocal folds : TRUE VOCAL CORDS
Selected response from:

David Russi
United States
Local time: 20:54
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +12vocal cords
David Russi
5 +5vocal cords vs chordjuvera
5 +4vocal cords (simplified)
Nick Lingris
5 +2OED says....Charlie Bavington
5 +1vocal chords
David Hollywood
3A friend's explanation
Balasubramaniam L.


Discussion entries: 10





  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +12
vocal cords


Explanation:
Webster's 3rd

cord
3 a : an anatomical structure resembling a cord; especially : TENDON, NERVE — see SPERMATIC CORD, SPINAL CORD, UMBILICAL CORD, VOCAL CORDS b : a small flexible insulated electrical cable usually consisting of a pair of insulated stranded wires twisted together and having a plug at one or both ends used to connect a lamp, electric iron, toaster, or other appliance with a receptacle


Main Entry:1chord
Pronunciation:*k*(*)rd, -*(*)d
Function:noun
Inflected Form:-s
Etymology:alteration (influenced by 3chord) of cord, from Middle English, short for accord


: a combination of two or more tones sounded together, especially tones that blend harmoniously because of the simple ratios of their pitch frequencies; specifically : COMMON CHORD

Main Entry:vocal cords
Variant:also vocal bands
Function:noun plural

: either of two pairs of folds of mucous membrane that project into the cavity of the larynx and have free edges extending dorsoventrally toward the middle line: a : FALSE VOCAL CORDS b or vocal folds : TRUE VOCAL CORDS

David Russi
United States
Local time: 20:54
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 12
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Konstantin Kisin
4 mins

agree  giogi
11 mins

agree  xxxcmwilliams
14 mins

agree  Angela Dickson
17 mins

agree  Madeleine MacRae Klintebo
28 mins

agree  David Sirett: But long ago anatomical cords = chords and the vocal cords were referred to as vocal chords (SOED)
28 mins

agree  Armorel Young
1 hr

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
1 hr

agree  Robert Donahue
5 hrs

agree  xxxgtreyger
8 hrs

agree  KNielsen
10 hrs

agree  Refugio
14 hrs
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6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +5
vocal cords vs chord


Explanation:
Vocal cords are the membranous tissue in the larynx whose edges vibrate in the airstream to produce the voice. (always in plural)

chord is a group of notes sang or played together

juvera
Local time: 03:54
Native speaker of: Native in HungarianHungarian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  giogi: exactly!
9 mins
  -> Thanks.

agree  Madeleine MacRae Klintebo
27 mins
  -> Thanks.

agree  Robert Donahue
5 hrs
  -> Thanks Robert.

agree  tappi_k
11 hrs
  -> Thanks.

agree  xxxgtreyger
21 days
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2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
vocal chords


Explanation:
I have always thought it is "chords" ... seems normal to me "a musical chord"

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 mins (2005-05-19 14:05:31 GMT)
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the Random House says \"vocal cords\" though so both are ok

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 mins (2005-05-19 14:06:08 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The larynx is located in the throat and contains the vocal chords and glottis. ... you first created such that the final vocal chord shape remains. ...



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 mins (2005-05-19 14:06:45 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Voice, piano and guitar chords. Piano/vocal/chords songbook. With vocal melody, piano accompaniment, lyrics, chord names and guitar chord diagrams. ...


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2005-05-19 14:12:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

1) The kidnappers tied his hands with a piece of cord.
(2) In anatomy we read about the spinal cord and the vocal cords.
(1) He played a chord on the piano.
(2) His emotionally charged speech struck a chord with the audience.
(3) In geometry a chord is a straight line joining the ends of an arc.

This ref deals with \"tricky \" cases (and goes with \"cords\"): http://www.davidappleyard.com/english/vocabulary.htm

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2005-05-19 14:13:28 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

so there we are now :)

David Hollywood
Local time: 23:54
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  giogi: exactly!
14 mins

agree  Derek Gill Franßen
16 mins

disagree  Angela Dickson: Musical 'vocal chords' are a special case of chords sung vocally, and have (or should have) nothing to do with the cords in the glottis that vibrate when we speak.
17 mins
  -> thx Angela, as you see, I ended up going with "cords"
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41 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
OED says....


Explanation:
(I am sure (level 5) cos I'm typing it out for you!)
From the 2 volume OED:

chord (refash. of CORD noun after Latin 'chorda')
1. Anatomy = CORD noun esp. in spinal chord, vocal chord, M16, i.e. this usage has ben around since the mid 16th century - don't fight it, dude, unless you still insist it's "a norange" not "an orange" :-)

Which probably explains everything. I'd say either is equally acceptable.



Charlie Bavington
Local time: 03:54
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Angela Dickson: damn modern education system, didn't teach me Latin or Greek... this is illuminating, thanks!
1 hr

agree  Chris Rowson: I studied music (and Latin and Greek) in England: for me "vocal cords" looks wrong. But I realise it´s probably an alternate correct form, even in BE.
7 hrs
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58 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
cords vs. chords
vocal cords (simplified)


Explanation:
Cord (in its meaning of string, and also in vocal cords, umbilical cord, spinal cord) comes from the Latin ‘chorda’, from the Greek ‘khorde’ (we still call it khorde in Greek). Pity it has not retained the ‘h’: the correct spelling is CORD.

It does retain the ‘h’ and is spelled CHORD when it is the string on a harp (strike the right chord) or in mathematics (a straight line joining the ends of an arc).

It is also spelled CHORD when it stands for a group of notes sounded together (the triumphal opening chords; a G major chord). It used to be spelled ‘cord’ because it actually comes from ‘accord’ and the Latin word for heart, ‘cor’, but in the 18th century it got confused with the other musical chord, hence its current spelling.

Now if, with all this mix-up, we get the vocal cords and all the other cords spelled with an ‘h’, there will only be chords around and no more confusion. We’ll have a perfect chord; or a concord, if you like.

Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English

Nick Lingris
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in GreekGreek

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Vicky Papaprodromou: Exactly, both words are of Greek origin and should be used appropriately under the original Greek meaning.//I'm afraid we can't change everything. Let's just stick to traditional "vocal cords" to help Ian out of this labyrinth. :-)
57 mins
  -> How about corduroys? And cordless telephones?

agree  Angela Dickson: this is also nice
1 hr
  -> My cordial thanks.

agree  Robert Donahue: Nice explanation Santo.
4 hrs
  -> Thank you. It was fun writing it.

agree  Balasubramaniam L.: I can see that the lexicographer in you is having a field day.
16 hrs
  -> Thank you. It was the reversal of fortunes that fascinated me.
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17 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
A friend's explanation


Explanation:
As I have no musical knowledge, I asked this question to my friend Vivek Khadpekar who is more musically oriented (in fact he has undergone formal training in classical Indian music and sings ragas quite melodiously). This is what he had to say on the issue:

[quote]
Very interesting question. I had never thought of it. Although the expression is very much part of my active vocabulary in speech, I don't think I have ever used it in writing. If I did have to, I suppose I would instinctively write "chord", because of the association with music.

Anyway, I looked it up in my workaday Random House Unabridged as well as on www.answers.com.... The correct spelling, in this context, is "cord", and the term is normally used in the plural--"vocal cords". These are folds in the mucous membrane in the area of the larynx and help in phonation. They are not cords in the sense that string, twine, rope etc. are, for which "chord" is an acceptable alternative spelling, according to RHUD. But the dictionary does not make an allowance to include vocal "chords".

Your explanation of the sense being not anatomical but musical, does not help[here the reference is to the way I had worded the question]. If you mean chords (a combination of three or more notes produced simultaneously), this is possible on an instrument, not vocally. Except by a chorus, in which case I would not call it a "vocal chord", but a "chord (effect) produced by several voices singing together".

[unquote]

Hope that this helps.


Balasubramaniam L.
India
Local time: 08:24
Native speaker of: Native in HindiHindi
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