Learn aboot North American English dialects
December 27, 2010 3:22 PM   Subscribe

A quite ugly but intriguing map of English dialects in North America.
posted by nickheer (114 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
I appreciate this -- maybe it has to be ugly in order to show all the required detail. Non-Southerners may note that it is the Charleston/Savannah accent (non-rhotic, cf. "I declayah") that is generally imitated by Northerners to mock Southerns. The second most stereotypical Southern accent is the Appalachian, but I don't see it indicated here very well at all. Does a West Virginian really speak the same way as a person from Allegheny, PA?

I wish there were greater detail on Native American accents out west. I definitely heard a different accent among Blackfoot Indians than I did among white Montanans, although they were all first-language English or at least bilingual.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2010


There appears to be things in that which are supposed to be clickable. I'm guessing this is just a screenshot (or the image behind and imagemap) or something. Anyone know where it's from?
posted by floam at 3:33 PM on December 27, 2010


Interesting, but chaotic map. Being Canadian, I would adjust the map to add the significant French populations in Manitoba and Ontario, plus the fact that Toronto has its own accent (it has a dash of Chicago) - and the "oot" thing is localized to certain areas in southern Ontario - also, it's not really "aboot", it's more like "a-boat". /semantics
posted by weezy at 3:33 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


So the only place where 'general American' is the dialect is a tiny swath of land from the Missouri River Basin to about St. Louis? Seems sorta...backwards to me, no?

This map is hell to read (at first I was like...wait...so the entire West is the greater NYC area??), but very interesting. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:33 PM on December 27, 2010


OK that wasn't too tough. Here it is.
posted by floam at 3:34 PM on December 27, 2010 [25 favorites]


Interesting to see the North accent branches out to upstate NY. I'm not sure if I've ever noticed this while there (I'm from Chicago).
posted by marimeko at 3:36 PM on December 27, 2010


That's a lot of fun...surprised that "Downtown New Orleans" is how the accent is identified. I do agree that one accent you hear a lot in New Orleans is very similar to Brooklynese, but historically, I'm pretty sure the relationship goes the other way and so perhaps New Orleans should be labelled "Downtown Brooklyn." But then, I have not loooked at this sufficiently yet to know how it was built. I don't mind that it's ugly; I love the detail.
posted by Miko at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2010


Here is the page that is listed as the source in the upper left of the map. It has a lot more... words and it's clickable.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the methodology here. It looks like almost all of the audio samples are politicians, athletes, and stuff like that. Sort of ingenious, maybe. That, and I know that most Navajo do not speak Navajo, and doubly so for Hopi.
posted by cmoj at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out Ludlow, SD is actually marked on this map. Ludlow is a bar and a one-room schoolhouse. That's it.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:43 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


nathan_teske: Because that just happens to be where he got some audio from. There are a lot of nowhere-villes on this map. On the real page you can click through and see the sample.
posted by floam at 3:44 PM on December 27, 2010


Holy crap, was that there a lot of work, yesseree bob.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2010


Spelled Missouri, pronounced Mizzuerr-ah
posted by wcfields at 3:53 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never realized that there were two distinct dialect regions in the Bay Area. Actually, four, if you count the South Bay and the borderland between the East Bay and the Central Valley. And there's a Silver City, NM subdialect?
posted by blucevalo at 4:11 PM on December 27, 2010


Holy crap. I'm in the Midwest, right in the middle of the Nebraska-Iowa region where there are apparently like 6 overlapping dialects with extremely subtle differences. And this is the region where supposedly we have the most standardized English dialect. People come from all over the world to study English at my university, just so they can be exposed to our "neutral" dialect.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:22 PM on December 27, 2010


Ha! I love that New Orleans gets its own inset!
posted by brundlefly at 4:25 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting to see the North accent branches out to upstate NY. I'm not sure if I've ever noticed this while there (I'm from Chicago).

Oh yah, when I was living in the Finger Lakes I thought I'd been dropped into the set of Fargo.
posted by headnsouth at 4:28 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Edward Tufte heart-attack-on-a-plate.
posted by cogneuro at 4:31 PM on December 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


I imagine that this was a considerable amount of work and the researcher probably considered many fine nuances. However, as someone with family from Appalachian Kentucky (and who lived there from 2007-early 2010), I don't see how all of Appalachian Kentucky can be lumped with a region that extends all the way to New Mexico. My Northern Appalachian Kentucky relatives even spoke differently than my Southern Kentucky Appalachian students and colleagues at my former school. Having grown up in Louisville and now living in Charlotte, I don't see the accents between the two places as being entirely the same as they are indicated on this map either. Again, I imagine the researcher did lots of work for this, but perhaps he or she needs more data for some of these areas.

As I read the map more, I see that there are subdialects listed such as Central Midland Cincinnati, which makes it seem a bit more nuanced, but I still would be interested in a finer grain of distinction between some places. In my experience with the Appalachian region for instance, I find that the pronunciation of the word "right" marks off different boundaries, on a continuum from "rat" to "rot."
posted by Slothrop at 4:35 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this map and his work is thoroughly phenom...but the website breaks my heart, again. Linguists do amazing and important work, but there is a consistent form and accessibility problem that plagues the community and is just a general detriment to the field. Most of the best tools, fonts, sites, lists, corpora, and websites for and by linguists are mind-numbingly clunky and/or incomplete and/or stuck in 1995 interfaces. I'm looking at you, LinguistList, Praat, SIL Doulos/Charis/Gentium and on and on...
posted by iamkimiam at 4:40 PM on December 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was in the middle of writing a big, long, pedantic post, but figured it'd be more readable to just say that this is clearly not a very detailed map, missing a large amount of local variation and smaller-scale local accents.

(Most egregiously, though, it completely neglects the fascinating variations in Newfoundland.)
posted by eviemath at 4:47 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


They really blew it north of the 49th, especially in Atlantic Canada. Lab, Newfie, Caper, Hali, "real" NS, N00b, Chiac, and Pee-y Eye are all tremendously distinct accents, with full-on Newfie (heavy Irish influence), Caper (from Scottish) and Chiac (from Acadian French) being real-ass, can't-understand-a-word-of-it dialects. Alta-Sask is completely different from BC, Ontario's got a couple accents for every county, and blah, blah, blah.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:48 PM on December 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


As far as the levels of detail missing in certain regions of the US...there are many reasons for that; one of them being that the research on dialect variation up until this point has primarily focussed on specific areas and sociolinguistic factors driving the speech patterns that make up the communities in those areas. So you have a lot of detailed mapping on the east coast, geographically isolated places, and culturally diverse or divided spots...and some major lackings in others, like, big chunks of the west coast (but there are a lot of linguists really paying attention to these areas now...it's become quite a hot topic in the field lately). Also, it's all changing quite a bit through time.

Fascinating stuff. It'd just be neat if there was a way to make this map 3-dimensional, somehow showing the depth of detail represented in the areas shown, so we could differentiate homogeneity from lack of data/representation.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:49 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chicago is represented by the current Mayor Daley and an obscure TV show from 1954. The former is of course familiar to me, but the latter speaks in an accent I've never heard in Chicago.
posted by me3dia at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2010


I never realized that there were two distinct dialect regions in the Bay Area. Actually, four, if you count the South Bay and the borderland between the East Bay and the Central Valley.

I'm (I guess) delighted to see that the Central Valley is recognized as a separate region although it will forever take me back to that day in college when I was reading Tales of the City and some minor character was describes as having a "tinny Modesto accent." Ouch.
posted by kittyprecious at 4:56 PM on December 27, 2010


Also, John Malkovich is the representative accent for Benton, Illinois, way down in the south of the state. I somehow doubt Malkovich's accent is representative of anywhere, let alone his home town.
posted by me3dia at 4:57 PM on December 27, 2010


"So you have a lot of detailed mapping on the east coast, geographically isolated places..."

But the map is missing all the detail of Atlantic Canada, as Sys Rq mentioned. It's also missing the variations in northern New England: Downeast Maine (that's east of Mount Desert Island for all you Massachusetts tourists who think you're going Downeast for your summer vacations) has a noticeably different accent from Southern Maine. The map also misses the many pockets of French-speaking (or formerly French-speaking) communities in northern New England. While French started to be lost in my generation in these communities, it still influences the accent.

Showing *all* that detail would make the map even more unreadable, of course, at least in its current configuration.
posted by eviemath at 5:04 PM on December 27, 2010


"on" rhymes with "dawn" vs.
"on" rhymes with "don"
Aren't "dawn" and "don" pronounced the same?
posted by small_ruminant at 5:06 PM on December 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Oh yah, when I was living in the Finger Lakes I thought I'd been dropped into the set of Fargo.

Chicagoans don't sound like that, though. No one I know does. Maybe Wisconsinites do, sometimes..
posted by marimeko at 5:07 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You gots a problem wit dat?
posted by Drasher at 5:09 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


s_r: There are places (especially in the Northeast) where "don" is closer to "dan" and "dawn" is "dowun."

But, yeah, most places they're homophones.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:12 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting, the "pin-pen line" in Idaho separates Idaho Falls from Soda Springs. Having spent some time in both places, I didn't see [hear] that.

(They don't indicate Pocatello, which seems to be right on the border.)
posted by phliar at 5:14 PM on December 27, 2010


Yep. Great resource. My favorite personal detail is that if you look at the Baltimore-DC area, they rightly have a Great Divide there, roughly halfway in between. This is how I managed to grow up on the west side of Baltimore ('the county' for Wire fans) and my wife grew up 40 miles away in Fairfax County, VA and she feels I'm an alien sent to corrupt her speech.
posted by el_lupino at 5:19 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


That must have been a very time consuming amount of work to get all the information for that map. I found that map so interesting, I was looking at it for about 15 minutes. I always wondered what could cause people to speak a little differently depending on their location.
posted by jwmollman at 5:37 PM on December 27, 2010


@ small_ruminant:

One of the major divisions in North American dialects is between those dialects where "Don" and "Dawn" are pronounced the same, and those were they aren't. If you speak a dialect where they're the same, it can seem quite mysterious--I know because I speak one of these dialects! The phenomenon where these words are pronounced the same is called the "cot-caught merger" (because "cot" and "caught" is another typical pair of words containing the same vowels as "Don" and "Dawn") or the "low-back merger" (because both vowels involved are pronounced with the tongue low in the back of the mouth). A merger is when two vowels that used to be distinct come to be pronounced identically. A majority of the US population still pronounces "Don" and "Dawn" differently, although the geographic distribution of the low-back merger is extensive.

Now, within the dialects that have distinct vowels for "Don" and "Dawn", there is a difference between dialects where the word "on" has the same vowel as "Don" and dialects where the word "on" has the same vowel as "Dawn". As you can see on the map, the dialects where "on" rhymes with "Don" are to the north of what we call "the ON line" (which runs through the middle of New Jersey) and the dialects where "on" rhymes with "Dawn" are to the south of the ON line.
posted by ootandaboot at 5:43 PM on December 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm from North-Central West Virginia (same county as Clarksburg), and I can whole-heartedly say that yes many people in this area speak like those from Pennsylvania. I'd always assumed that it had to do with most of us growing up watching Pittsburgh (or Wheeling) television stations. Listening to my grandparents talk confused me at times because all of their speech patterns were so different; not "southern", but "mountain" (e.g. kinda high-pitched). My parents' accents (they were born in the mid 1940s) were quite a bit more like the voices I would hear on KDKA or WTAE (Pittsburgh stations). I must say however that it does seem that "southern" accents are creeping northward as the years go by. Meanwhile, the mountain dialect has largely disappeared.
posted by frodisaur at 5:50 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Aren't "dawn" and "don" pronounced the same?"

Uh, no. Dawn is pronounced like "pawn" or "lawn" or "faun" or the beginning of "awning."

"Don we now our gay apparel..." Rhymes with "on" as in: "Is this thing on?" (Unless you're like my relatives from Jersey, who say, "Izzis thing awn?")

If you're still pronouncing them the same, I can't help you. =(
posted by Eideteker at 5:52 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Neato, on the clickable map they have videos of various dialects. I wish it was more comprehensive, but they have a video of Tangier Island, Virginia residents. Lots of research has been done on this small, remote island and it's said that they have the closest surviving dialect to Elizabethan English.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:57 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is clearly not a very detailed map, missing a large amount of local variation and smaller-scale local accents.

AFAIK this map has been a work in progress for a really really long time, because it's in a helluva lot better shape than when I used it for a class back in like 2005-ish.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:57 PM on December 27, 2010


"(This map does not include any information about African American Vernacular English, or AAVE, which tends to be independent of other dialects.)"

Oh. :-/
posted by oinopaponton at 6:00 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, for those who are worried about the representativeness of the sample for this map, or who are so incredibly fascinated by North American dialect geography that they wish they could read a several-hundred-page book about it, I would recommend checking out the Atlas of North American English (Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006). A surprisingly large amount of it is available on Google Books (although you sure have to zoom in!), and if you happen to be affiliated with an academic library that owns the book you can download the entire thing as a pdf.

What's most interesting to me is how similar Aschmann's map is to the dialect regions laid out in the Atlas of North American English. Despite the valid concerns expressed above about the audio sources that Aschmann's map is based on, it basically replicates work based on careful sampling of local speakers.
posted by ootandaboot at 6:02 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don=Dawn-speakers, how do you pronounce "Gone"? "Gon?" "Gawn?"

Anyone who says cot=caught the same way, how do you say "fraught" (as in "fraught with peril")? "Frot"? Do you say "hot" and "hawt" the same way? Because I thought half the point of the alternate spelling was the exaggerated pronunciation. How about "wrought" (like wrought-iron)? "Rot"?

(I was raised to enunciate (lower-middle class family with "aspirations"), so the thot (I meant THOUGHT) of merging different vowels into a formless mass is horrifying.)

(Speaking of which, how do you people say "horrifying"? Is it "haar-ifying" or "whore-ifying"? My mother, with a strong Jersey accent, says it with a long o, but she also says "YOO-man" and "YOO-mid." It's very YOO-mid out today.)
posted by Eideteker at 6:02 PM on December 27, 2010


Don=Dawn speaker here, we say gone like "gon" yeah, not "gawn", or at least I do.
posted by supercrayon at 6:08 PM on December 27, 2010


Don=Dawn-speakers, how do you pronounce "Gone "? "Gon?" "Gawn?"

There is literally no way for me to parse that. Hot and wrought and fraught and rot all rhyme perfectly in my dialect, and "gone" uses the same vowel (although nasalized, I guess). I never thought(!) of my accent being weird at all until a friend from Cleveland made a big stupid stink about how I pronounced "ferry" and "fairy" identically--as I recall, he pronounced one of them like "furry," which I thought(!!) ridiculous.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Eideteker:

If you are a Don=Dawn speaker (like me!), there is no possible distinction between the hypothetical words "gon" and "gawn". They would be pronounced the same (that's the point). "Gone" has the same vowel as "Don" which is also the same vowel as "Dawn." Now whether that vowel sounds more like an unmerged speaker's "Dawn" or their "Don" depends on where you're from, and where they're from. Usually we say that it's the vowel that was originally in "Dawn", but the details of the phonetics can vary considerably. The average Don=Dawn speaker won't be able to tell you whether they pronounce any given word with the vowel you personally would use for "Dawn" or "Don", because they'll have a hard time recognizing the difference (unless pairs like "Don" and "Dawn" are compared directly) and will not know which words go in which group.
posted by ootandaboot at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2010


"how I pronounced "ferry" and "fairy" identically"

So how do you pronounce them? How do you pronounce "Ferris Wheel"? Fairus/-is or ferrous? Fairy? Is it like "fayur and balanced" or "ferr and balanced"? Because the latter sounds ferrly ridiculous.

So for you folks who can't answer my question about Gone/gon/gawn, what do you make of my earlier examples? Do you say "pon shop"? Pawn is like pond without the d? Awning is "onning"? Get off my lon? Quit fonning over that starlet? Instead of Caw-ing, do crows go "Ca, ca"? You just don't pronounce W's at all?

(Let's not get into my English teacher who said "folder" as "foder", or my grandparents who said "milik" and "filim" instead of "milk" and "film". Put the "ke'el" on. Etc. So weird.)
posted by Eideteker at 6:34 PM on December 27, 2010


"Aren't "dawn" and "don" pronounced the same?"...Uh, no
...If you're still pronouncing them the same, I can't help you. =(

I was raised to enunciate (lower-middle class family with "aspirations"), so the thot (I meant THOUGHT) of merging different vowels into a formless mass is horrifying.

...how do you people say...


i really can't follow much of you're talking about, i'm a don=dawn dullard. i also can't really imagine giving each vowel it's proper respect every time it's in a word that comes out of my mouth (mow-uth?), but you're coming off kinda snotty.
posted by rainperimeter at 6:39 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Slothrop writes "I imagine the researcher did lots of work for this, but perhaps he or she needs more data for some of these areas."

Western Canada is not nearly as uniform as this map makes out. It's pretty easy to tell a Manitoban from an Albertan or even someone from Snow Lake vs Winnipeg. Sample sizes are probably small though.
posted by Mitheral at 6:40 PM on December 27, 2010


how do you say cool whip?
posted by rainperimeter at 6:41 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The West" is rather more nuanced than it appears on the map.

As an example, the difference between eastern and western Colorado is easy to hear. Eastern, it's "for instance", western, it's more likely to be "fer instance". I suspect that other states are equally different across geographical and economic lines.

It's also nice to see that the author appreciates the difference between Navajo and Hopi... but most of the Navajo I've met didn't actually speak their native tongue.
posted by underflow at 6:42 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What dialect do these people have?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:45 PM on December 27, 2010


The worst thing about the "Don=Dawn" thing, at least in Pittsburgh, is that people say names like "Tommy" so they sound like "Tawwmy" (That's "Tormy" for Brits.)

To me, "On" rhymes with "Dawn" (and pawn and lawn), and "Don" rhymes with "Con" or maybe even "Khan".

And then there's the fact that "Towel" and "Tile" sound about the same, here, too, and it's something like "Tahw".
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:47 PM on December 27, 2010


Ferris=fairus=ferrous=fairy=fair=fairly=ferry

Gone=gon=gawn=pon=pawn=pond=awning=onning=lon=lawn=fawning=fonning=caw=ca

I know it seems weird if you're used to making these distinctions. But it seems just as weird to try to imagine these distinctions when they aren't part of your native dialect!

I'm an articulate, highly-educated, upper-middle-class speaker with academics for parents, and I doubt anyone would describe my accent as a horrifying formless mass. Eideteker, there is no way you make every vowel distinction possible in English. Do you pronounce the vowels in "bath" and "trap" differently? What about "horse" and "hoarse"? I bet you don't, and I bet your life continues very happily anyhow :)

Also, there are no "w" sounds involved whatsoever, despite what's there in the spelling.
posted by ootandaboot at 6:47 PM on December 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Does a West Virginian really speak the same way as a person from Allegheny, PA?

Wheeling, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have similar accents. They were both isolated geographical outposts, and close enough that ambitious people from Wheeling aspired to move up to Pittsburgh, and nefarious outcasts in Pittsburgh would retreat to Wheeling.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:57 PM on December 27, 2010


I remember having to ask my Brooklyn friends to repeat themselves (and I'd giggle) whenever they said the word drawer. I, from M'waukee, say "draw-er". They say "draw", as did my elderly Alabaman relatives when I was a little girl.

Is theirs some old Southern English pronunciation that stuck?
posted by droplet at 7:01 PM on December 27, 2010


"you're coming off kinda snotty"

Well, here's the thing. As a kid raised in the midwest/South by parents from the NY metro area, who grew up with not much of a discernible accent at all (in that I don't say "warsh" or "JC Pinney", or "cawfee" or "tawk", at least), I am fascinated by this. I've only been outside the US twice, (and both of those places were basically English-speaking), but I've been all over the US. I've probably pretended to speak most of these dialects at some point (with varying degrees of failure, natch). So it's more of a wide-eyed wonder at the diversity of just American English. Not even places outside the US (which I also pay attn to; can do more than one type of British accent, at least)! I obviously never delved in to this level of depth, because though I understand the don/dawn thing, I can't imagine saying "onning". I don't even know how you'd pronounce "awl". Just "All/Oll"? When something makes you go, "awwww" is it really just "Ahhhh"? There have to be SOME differences somewhere. Differences I can use to explain things to people like small_ruminant or to hone my own technique when performing.

"how do you say cool whip?"

Oh, c'mon. Now you're just being hweird.
posted by Eideteker at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


sounds ferrly ridiculous.

Wow. You do realize that English wasn't invented in the United States, right? That you don't have an exclusive right to tell the rest of us how to pronounce vowels? We all use the language differently, and it sounds different everywhere you go. But your attitude helps me to understand why so many Americans thought it was perfectly appropriate to outright laugh at me when I tried to speak while living in the states, because my accent is so funny! Ferrly ridiculous, you might even say.

Sheesh.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:08 PM on December 27, 2010


"Is theirs some old Southern English pronunciation that stuck?"

Yes and no. This map doesn't cover AAVE (as mentioned above), so it's missing some key trends that heavily Black areas (like Brooklyn) may reflect. Even if your friends aren't black, it's reasonable to assume they may have picked up some of the pronunciation.

Yes, there are also non-rhotic components to NY speech, which is why I said "yes and no." It's complicated. I leave it to someone with more than a few undergraduate credits in linguistics to elaborate on, if necessary. =)
posted by Eideteker at 7:08 PM on December 27, 2010


Uh, Eideteker, I think the don/dawn thing is more that Don sounds like Dawn, and those sounds get the w added, than the other way around. "awning" sounds like "awning" but "conning" sounds like "cawning".
At least in Pgh, anyway.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:08 PM on December 27, 2010


"Wow. You do realize that English wasn't invented in the United States, right? That you don't have an exclusive right to tell the rest of us how to pronounce vowels? We all use the language differently, and it sounds different everywhere you go. But your attitude helps me to understand why so many Americans thought it was perfectly appropriate to outright laugh at me when I tried to speak while living in the states, because my accent is so funny! Ferrly ridiculous, you might even say."

You do realize I'm lampooning my own rigid upbringing, right? That I do understand and practice dialects, but that I'm just really curious about this stuff? And also that I oftentimes adopt a "Gee whiz, aw shucks" kind of attitude towards things that really interest me, because even though intellectually I know certain things exist, it still utterly fascinates me that they do?

In other words, y u mad tho?
posted by Eideteker at 7:13 PM on December 27, 2010


You do realize I'm lampooning my own rigid upbringing, right?

Saying the way we in the north pronounce things is "ridiculous" doesn't strike me as self-lampooning, no. I don't know you, how would I know that? You are not talking to yourself when you post these things. You repeatedly wrote that you can't even fathom how we pronounce words, no, self-lampooning didn't jump to mind first, oddly enough.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:17 PM on December 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


> cf. "I declayah"

Ah declayah
posted by jfuller at 7:19 PM on December 27, 2010


This conversation is somewhat difficult to follow. I feel like everyone in this thread needs to stop and go learn the IPA.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:20 PM on December 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


'I think the don/dawn thing is more that Don sounds like Dawn, and those sounds get the w added, than the other way around. "awning" sounds like "awning" but "conning" sounds like "cawning".
At least in Pgh, anyway.'


See, that's the interesting thing. Because ootandaboot (should be oatandaboat?) says there are no W's involved (probably MD's, tho). So yeah, there are people who say "onning," but there are also people who say "gawn." Which is why I also asked about cot/caught, because I'm sure there are people who would say "It's hawt out" (rhymes with "fraught") just as well as there are people who "cot a cold" (and does that mean they cotch colds rather than catch them?).

Regardless, I'm having a laugh (loff or laff?), but it's not at your (plural, not singular) expense. Let's don't get all het up and instead revel in the silliness of the trivial differences. I mean, for the most part we understand each other ("draws" notwithstanding).
posted by Eideteker at 7:21 PM on December 27, 2010


People always say that I have a Southern California accent. I don't understand what that means, other than "groovy" and "bitchen" are usually in my daily lexicon.
posted by Danf at 7:27 PM on December 27, 2010


"Saying the way we in the north pronounce things is "ridiculous" doesn't strike me as self-lampooning, no. I don't know you, how would I know that? You are not talking to yourself when you post these things. You repeatedly wrote that you can't even fathom how we pronounce words, no, self-lampooning didn't jump to mind first, oddly enough."

Aww, c'mon. I said "ferrly ridiculous." Would you have me append a "hyuk hyuk" to the end?

I think someone needs a hug. Cmereaminit!
posted by Eideteker at 7:31 PM on December 27, 2010


Und jetzt, auf Deutsch!
posted by Eideteker at 7:34 PM on December 27, 2010


Tufte wept.

And the methodology? So the San Diego accent is defined my Jolene Blalock? I thought she had a Vulcan accent? The town of my youth, Redding, CA is represented by kid that has a surfer drawl? What I remember about a native Redding accent was people would say "crick" for creek.
posted by birdherder at 7:36 PM on December 27, 2010


I never realized that there were two distinct dialect regions in the Bay Area.

I'm no linguist, but I did grow up there. I'm not aware of any real difference between the pronunciation of 'on', 'Don', and 'Dawn'. There might be some difference if you were really stressing 'Dawn', but not in routine use.

He could be hearing something I don't, since it appears I may be missing vowels that other people have. But I certainly don't remember hearing any such differentiation. I wonder how solid his data is?
posted by Malor at 7:42 PM on December 27, 2010


I'm quite surprised to learn that there exists (though I can't imagine how) a difference in pronunciation of Mary, Merry and Marry.

I'm from the Chicago area if that matters.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:47 PM on December 27, 2010


Are dialects mostly about vowels? I know consonants matter some because I was once discombobulated by a speech professor who told me that I had lived in the Midwest for a couple of years. I had. He said I "swallowed my glottals" in a way that is not heard in the Pacific Northwest.

What about how words are pronounced by adding syllables consonants that aren't there in written form: chimney -> chimbley and damper -> dampener. I hear these a lot at work.
posted by warbaby at 7:48 PM on December 27, 2010


To me pretty much everyone in the west, midwest, TV sounds pretty much alike. I'm in/from the pacific northwest. To people from more colorful parts of the country, do we all sound the same? Do we sound like the generic TV-person voice?

I really suck at this stuff. I have a hard time even getting past the idea that I have any accent. Everyone else talks funny!
posted by floam at 7:54 PM on December 27, 2010


Yeah, that map doesn't do a great job of breaking down Canadian English, although the linked book chapter is a bit better. (PDF of the chapter on Canadian English).

The Mary-merry-marry merger is another example of Canadian English having some odd hot-spots:
One of the best-known pre-rhotic mergers is known as the Mary-marry-merry merger, which consists of the mergers before intervocalic /r/ of /æ/ and /ɛ/ with historical /eɪ/.This merger is quite widespread in North America. A merger of Mary and merry, while keeping marry distinct, is found in the South and as far north as Baltimore, Maryland, and Wilmington, Delaware; it is also found among Anglophones in Montreal.
(Yep.)

Also:
If you pronounced Mary, merry and marry differently, you are from a) New York, b) England or c) Montreal.

"In English, variations tell you where people come from," says Linguistics professor Charles Boberg. As for the above sentence, most North American English speakers pronounce the words m/ary/erry/arry the same way, save for us Montrealers, who distinguish between "merry" and "marry," and our New York cousins, who differentiate them all, just like the British. ...

Boberg [has] broken down native English speakers in Montreal into three groups: the Anglo Montrealers of British descent, who predominantly live in the West Island, Westmount or NDG, or in pockets of Verdun or Pointe St. Charles; those with an East-European Jewish background, who have Yiddish as a base; and Mediterraneans of south European extraction, "like Italians who may not be fluent in Italian, but still use it at home."

Anglo Montrealers sound mostly like English speakers in the rest of Canada, Boberg says, but if you include native English speakers of Jewish or Italian descent, Montreal English sounds quite different.

"In Montreal, English is a minority language," Boberg says. There are two factors behind the variation in Montreal's English-speaking ethnic communities, he adds. "There is a weak English model, because French is dominant, and there's self-segregation in homogenous neighbourhoods."
When I moved to Toronto from Montreal when I was 14, several students at my new school pointed out that I sounded different from them, as if I had a British accent. I didn't, but they heard some subtle differences that they couldn't define very well (just as the average American still chortles at the idea of us all saying "aboot"). Of course, the first time one of them asked me for a rubber, I froze in horror before I realized she was asking to borrow my eraser, so I had a few things to learn about Toronto, too.
posted by maudlin at 8:18 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wiktionary has audio files for dawn and don.
posted by XMLicious at 8:19 PM on December 27, 2010


A couple of local data points:

1) Central Illinois gets a lot of its accent from Kentucky. You know how Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but his family moved to Illinois not too long after that territory became a state? So did a lot of other people.

2) Natives of Peoria, on the other hand, have an accent much more in common with that of Chicago. I suspect it's because of the number of German immigrants that settled both.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:28 PM on December 27, 2010


There are, among the assimilated anglo Jews of Montreal, two very distinct accents. (Among the unassimilated, there are more, but I don't know them well enough.) Boberg does interesting enough work, but he lacks a lot of background info on Montreal (as he used to spend all his summers doing research in Philadelphia -- in fact, despite being Canadian, he picked up a US accent doing his PhD and kept it when back in Canada, which is very unusual).

I'm also curious why the only anglophones in Montreal are British, Jewish or Italian, as in my day to day life I know a lot of anglophones who are not.

Yes, I have the merry/Mary vs marry distinction. This also differentiates between Erin and Aaron. The first vowel in those groups is rather like the one in met -- and is, I believe, standard in most other places -- the second is more like the one in cat.

Yes, all sounds like awl. Awning sounds like on-ing.
posted by jeather at 8:40 PM on December 27, 2010


Despite my years in Toronto, jeather, we probably sound like siblings.

I agree that Boberg oversimplifies the ethnic breakdown of Montreal anglophones. I went to elementary school in Laval with anglophone kids from a variety of backgrounds, including my best friend whose family was from PEI and really sounded like it. Grades 6-9 were spent in a French-Italian area of Montreal proper where most of the Italo-anglo kids at didn't seem to speak all that differently from the motley-anglo kids in Laval.

But the point stands that Canadian English is a little more complex than the map alone would suggest.
posted by maudlin at 8:52 PM on December 27, 2010


Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:19 PM on December 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


historically, I'm pretty sure the relationship goes the other way

I've always understood it to be simultaneous. New Orleans got the same late 19th century influx of Southern Italians that New York did. It also has a similar mix of Irish and German groups, though I think those waves of immigration happened at different times and in different contexts.

The similarity of the two accents is almost certainly not because New Yorkers migrated to New Orleans (or vice-versa).

Regarding the general correctness/detail of the map, I'd suggest that the Cajun territory of Southern Louisiana probably shouldn't include the Marksville area, and there should be a separate designation for what I'd call "suburban New Orleans", though I can't provide data to back that up. It's more a generally known thing - people from Jefferson Parish and the North Shore don't sound like either New Orleanians or Cajuns.
posted by Sara C. at 9:22 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


ootandaboot: What's most interesting to me is how similar Aschmann's map is to the dialect regions laid out in the Atlas of North American English.

According to this (which appears to be his webpage), much of his map is actually based off of ANAE.
posted by mhum at 9:34 PM on December 27, 2010


The boundaries around Western Massachusetts and and up-state New York seem to be accurate. Having spent 5+ years in both areas, I feel as though the boundaries stand for more than dialect; I would go as far as to say the boundaries define driving habits and general social vibe.
posted by berkshirenative at 9:49 PM on December 27, 2010


Class is a factor in these accents as well. When Listening to George Gobel's Chicago accent, it isn't heard in the city as much anymore. I hear Stickney and Harwood Heights, bastions of the white working class. John Wayne Gacy had the same kind of accent.

Today's white Chicago accent has many of the same features but with a quicker cadence. Listening to a recoeding of someone speaking in the fifties is painfully slow.
posted by readery at 9:54 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine thinking this hard about the way I or the people I'm talking to form their vowel sounds. In every instance of "these two words are similar but different" I find that I pronounce them exactly the same. Apparently this is a very Canadian accent, but frankly I can't tell the difference between the way they're pronounced in dialects that aren't supposed to have the merger. Everybody from the United States that doesn't have a very thick brooklynish or southernish accent sounds the same to me.
posted by tehloki at 10:01 PM on December 27, 2010


Ah ha, thanks for pointing that, mhum! I had to look around a bit to figure out what you were referring to on his page...bit of a mess, isn't it! There's some good stuff on there though. But yes, that does make the striking similarities to the ANAE substantially less interesting. Oh well.
posted by ootandaboot at 10:09 PM on December 27, 2010


This seems like an interesting map, but.... well, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not marked. The Upper Peninsula. How can you miss that on a dialect map, I ask you?
posted by koeselitz at 10:21 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm from South-Central Wisconsin. Is there anyone else out there that pronounces 'bag' like 'beg'?

Because Seattle understands me 99.9% of the time - until I ask for a bag. Then they just stare at me in abject confusion. Because I just paid them, so why am I asking to beg?
posted by spinifex23 at 10:25 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it correct to call the various, often not too dissimilar North American accents 'dialects'? Doesn't a dialect actually have like a lot of different words and stuff, not just like 'we call it pop', 'we call it soda'?
In the UK where you have probably 10 times as many accents - accents that really are unique and readily distinguishable - in an area the size of, oh, Manitoba, they're just accents - nobody seems to call them 'dialects'.
I guess I'm axing: when is it a dialect, when is it an accent, or is dialect just a pretentious way of saying accent?
posted by Flashman at 10:40 PM on December 27, 2010


I learned in college linguistics courses that there is no technical distinction between a language, a dialect, and an accent. You sort of call it like you see it.

Though, personally, to me "accent" means more like "you sound like you're from X region" whereas "dialect" is more of a technical term to describe measurable linguistic differences. The former depends on the perception of the listener, while the latter can be demonstrated with hard scientific data.

For example, I grew up in what the map would call the Cajun English dialect area, though my family hails from all over the US South and Midwest. As an adult, I moved to New York City. Depending on who I'm talking to and what the situation is, people will say I have X or Y accent. However, there is a way I say "dawn" and a way I say "pen", and that doesn't depend on who I'm talking to at all; that's just scientific fact.
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 PM on December 27, 2010


Eideteker: I'm from Boston, and my answer to pretty much every one of your increasingly incredulous questions is: yes! pawn sounds exactly like pond without a d. Awning sounds exactly like onning would. Ad infinitum. Except that the exclamations Ahhhhh and Awwwww are quite different-- the former is the vowel sound in father, while the latter is the vowel sound in fawn. Which sounds just like font without a t.
posted by threeants at 11:05 PM on December 27, 2010


North American dialects are just funny creatures altogether.

I was born and went to primary school in DC, raised by a native upper class New Yorker and a British English speaker, then (less a couple random year-long stints in Germany and Baltimore) spent the next 25 years of my life in and near Cincinnati, whilst apparently becoming "polluted" by the rural Appalachian accents in the public schools there (according to my East Coast WASP snob relatives, anyhow) then moved to Boulder, Colorado, where I've been speaking ski bum-ese for the past decade.

and yet, every goddamn time someone says "you must be from..." they either next say "Seattle" or "Toronto"

WTF? Of all the areas on the north american continent that I've either lived, bummed about, or visited, those are the ONLY TWO I've never even set foot in, let alone been in long enough to form dialect or even know what it sounds like.

well and then there's the mister who's a native New Mexican (ABQ) raised by a couple of Berkeley hippies from SoCal, and I frequently have to repeat myself because apparently I don't enunciate well enough for him to follow.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:11 AM on December 28, 2010


Ah, come on. You all sound the same.
posted by Decani at 1:01 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I learned in college linguistics courses that there is no technical distinction between a language, a dialect, and an accent. You sort of call it like you see it."

Ugh, really? That's so patently wrong. I'll give you this much though...the distinction between a language and a dialect is incredibly ambiguous (not because of laziness or indifference) and steeped in much controversy. But there is a LOT of information out there to make cases for many sides. And a lot of definitions, too. The Wikipedia page on dialect (and accent and language) is pretty darned good.

The difference between a dialect and an accent is clearly defined. From Wikipedia:
"A dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology, including prosody). Where a distinction can be made only in terms of pronunciation, the term accent is appropriate, not dialect."
One can speak a Texas dialect with an RP accent (go ahead and try it, it's fun!) or a Scottish dialect with a New York accent. Or a New Jersey dialect with a Scottish accent (trilling all your shores)...and on and on. It's hilarious and slightly ridiculous, but can help you learn the distinction. Pick grammatical and lexical, etc. features of a dialect, but pronounce them with the accent of a completely different dialect.

The distinction between 'accent' and 'dialect' often gets muddled because most speakers (and the mass media) use 'accent' as a metonym for 'dialect', either not understanding the difference, not caring, or opting to not be specific (or overspecifying, as it were). Also, 'accent' and 'dialect' have different connotations (and sometimes, meanings) within a public, social sphere than they do in the academic or linguistic register. This might influence speakers to use the word 'accent' when they technically mean 'dialect'. Most people are not linguists and wouldn't realize this, but that's ok. It happens in all sorts of fields and with all manner of words and jargon (think of the difference between the 'web' and the 'internet', yikes!). Also, accents are often the most obvious/salient/marked features of a dialect, so it sort of makes sense for speakers to talk about their language choices this way (American linguists do this too...often writing American 'r' in IPA as [r] instead of [ɹ], because it's easier and culturally understood to mean American 'r' in the context in which it's being referred to. Which is funny, because [r] is a trill.).

I'm surprised other links haven't been posted here yet (some of them have shown up in previous MeFi threads I see), but 'ere ya go!*:

"The Speech Accent Archive uniformly presents a large set of speech samples from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English read the same paragraph and are carefully transcribed. The archive is used by people who wish to compare and analyze the accents of different English speakers."

Other interesting places to browse: the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) and the British Library's accent project, Sounds Familiar?, featuring interactive sound maps, texts and more (last one is all UK maps).

And lastly, for fun: Amy Walker and Truseneye92 performing 20+ accents of English. Especially with Truseneye92, he's clearly capitalizing on a lot of dialectical resources, such as grammar, prosody, lexical choice, semantic content - as well as widespread language attitudes and stereotypes about the cultures that these dialects are representative of.

*"'ere ya go" is much better if you drop the 'h' (Cockney), diphthong the 'ya' (Southern drawl), and round and tighten the vowel in 'go' (I have no idea, but it's fun!).
posted by iamkimiam at 2:20 AM on December 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


So the only place where 'general American' is the dialect is a tiny swath of land from the Missouri River Basin to about St. Louis?

Not really. That area is just white because white is a different color, as far as I can tell. For a long time the default US accent -- for broadcasters, for example -- was basically a Midland North accent. It's been edging more toward a West accent in recent years (largely the influence of California, I presume). I hear northern Midwest (where I live and was raised) more than I hear Missouri Midwest, anyway.

I'm from South-Central Wisconsin. Is there anyone else out there that pronounces 'bag' like 'beg'?

How your expressions and vowel sounds give you away as a 'Skahnsinite'

I don't see how all of Appalachian Kentucky can be lumped with a region that extends all the way to New Mexico

Linguistic maps are done using isoglosses -- like contour lines on a map, they mark a measurable distinction, but also conceal much detail. This particular map defines the Inland South as Full Southern shift: vowels of “ride”, “buy”, and “right” all have no diphthong, “pin” = “pen”, which is probably substantially true even if there's quite a different sound from one end to the other.

As a resident of southern Wisconsin, I can definitely say that there's a missing isogloss somewhere in the Inland section that distinguishes when a lilting Fargo-like (Minnesota-like, really) quality starts up. It's about the same angle as the big red line NW of Madison, but only about 50-75 miles outside of Chicago. The source of this lilt is, to my ear, very likely the Scandinavian immigrants who heavily settled in the region.

I personally was born in Chicago to Chicago-area-raised parents, and never quite picked up all the Wisconsinisms, although most of my vowel sounds are pretty similar to what I grew up with. I'm fascinated by the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, particularly since I can hear bits and pieces of it around here, but it hasn't fully taken root -- and I know I mostly don't have it in my own voice. I've tentatively identified a couple of celebrities that I think might "speak" NCVS English, but my linguistic chops are really rusty and if anyone wants to suggest someone who'd be a good example I'm open to suggestions.

there is no technical distinction between a language, a dialect, and an accent

And as they say, a language is a dialect with an army and a navy.
posted by dhartung at 3:04 AM on December 28, 2010


dhartung writes "Linguistic maps are done using isoglosses -- like contour lines on a map, they mark a measurable distinction, but also conceal much detail."

That sort of explains the lines separating Vancouver from Vancouver Island on one side and the rest of BC on the other.
posted by Mitheral at 4:10 AM on December 28, 2010


This reminds me of a trip that my family took to Florida a couple of years ago. We would always drive down and we had stopped somewhere in South Carolina at a diner right off the high way. After we had ordered our food our waitress looked at us and said "Your from Worcester, MA" and walked away. When she came back my dad asked her how she knew and she said that she had been working at the diner for 20 years and had people stop from all along the east coast and could tell you where anybody was from just by their accent. So we watched her and the next 3 people that came in she was able to tell them exactly where they were from just by their accent, it was quite amazing.
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:32 AM on December 28, 2010


I was annoyed that the map didn't load on my phone...until koeselitz pointed out the missing UP, and now I'm just angry.

T'ink I'm going to have a pasty and sauna to calm myself down.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:59 AM on December 28, 2010


Texas is all sorts of wrong. First, the Texan dialect is too distinct to lump in with "The South" - especially in the same category as Georgia and the Carolina! Also, Waco does not have a dialect distinct from DFW or Austin, but the DFW area has more in common with Abilene and Lubbock than it does with Houston or South Texas. Finally, this may be anecdotal, but my entire family, which has lived in Texas for generations, pronounces don and dawn identically. According to this map that's abnormal down here, but I've not noticed that to be the case.

He did get Galveston and Corpus Christi right though.
posted by thewittyname at 7:09 AM on December 28, 2010


It is really too bad they didn't cover AAE. I can tell the difference between someone from the west side of Detroit and someone from the east side by dialect. They are very different. Can't explain it, being IPA-impaired.
posted by QIbHom at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


MikeWarot: "I'm quite surprised to learn that there exists (though I can't imagine how) a difference in pronunciation of Mary, Merry and Marry.

I'm from the Chicago area if that matters.
"

I'm originally from New Jersey, but have lived in Chicago for 23 years. "Mary," "marry," and "merry" are all different words to me.

here is someone on YouTube pronouncing them the way I do.
posted by tzikeh at 7:39 AM on December 28, 2010


I'm pleased to see that there is a tiny swath of North Central Ohio that is identified as having a fairly neutral accent... I've heard people differentiate the accents of N and S Ohio but the neutral area rarely gets a mention.

I grew up in Mansfield, and when I went to work at a company based in Toledo I was fascinated by the nasally way Toledoans pronounced their vowels... baaahx for box, for example. Then I moved to Chicago and the natives here sound like that too, which is indicated on the map.

I once had a teacher in grade school mention that "we don't say Ohio... we say Ohia." Which I found really odd, because everyone I know does say Ohi-oh... well, sometimes when talking fast it comes out Ohia, but if you ask a Mansfielder where they are from they'll almost certainly say Ohi-oh. Turns out the teacher was from southern Ohia and apparently hadn't noticed the difference in pronunciation between the two areas.

So the only place where 'general American' is the dialect is a tiny swath of land from the Missouri River Basin to about St. Louis? Seems sorta...backwards to me, no?

Agreed. It sounds unaccented to me because I grew up there, but I do wonder how/why it was decided that our way of pronouncing English is the most correct considering it is far from the most common.

Jay Goyal is a perfect sample of the neutral accent. He's the darker man who speaks later (about 5:22) in the clip. The first guy is from Cleveland, and you can hear the nasal "A" sound particularly well when he says the words "national" and "Democratic."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:40 AM on December 28, 2010


I wonder if the Upstate accent is so close to the western Great Lakes thanks in part to the Erie Canal and the movement of commerce through Upstate to get to Chicago and Minneapolis. I've had many people think I'm from Michigan and sometimes Minnesota when I'm actually from the Finger Lakes.
posted by yeti at 8:55 AM on December 28, 2010


"Mary," "marry," and "merry" are all different words to me.

I'm guessing Mary is may-ree and Marry is ma-ree, but what about merry? Does it rhyme with "berry" (as it does here---as they all do) or "furry"? Is there even a difference between "berry" and "furry"?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 AM on December 28, 2010


If we all just stick to text, none of this matters.

Clearly there's a separate dialect for singers though, because baby is universally pronounced "baybay" by anyone singing into a microphone.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:43 AM on December 28, 2010


Berry is like error, the "u" in furry is like earth. Or "urn." Taciturn.

Actually, even simpler: the E in "berry" is like the E in "error" and the U in "furry" is [more] like the O in "error." (Which I suppose you say as "urrurr"?)
posted by Eideteker at 10:32 AM on December 28, 2010


No, I say those exactly as you do, apparently.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:38 AM on December 28, 2010


(My question was whether "merry" rhymes with "berry." Well? Does it? It does here.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:41 AM on December 28, 2010


Not to monopolize the thread, but...

Mary=marry=merry=(around Toronto anyway, which does not agree with my Haligonian clip-n-slur) the first two syllables of Mario. Bury also rhymes with all those, but Murray and furry are totally different--they rhyme with worry (but not sorry, which sounds even less like marry).

As for the differences in accents across Canada, aside from some drastic vowel shifts down east, it's really all about the syllables. Out west (particularly on the Prairies), they actually bother to pronounce them all! For example, in Alberta, the t in bat often sounds just like the t in tab; in Nova Scotia, bat is usually pronounced with the alveolar plosive replaced by either a glottal stop or an alveolar tap, depending on the situation.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:20 AM on December 28, 2010


Erm, it's all about the consonants.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on December 28, 2010


yep, it's all aboot the consonants.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:26 AM on December 28, 2010


Yes, merry rhymes with berry.
posted by stormygrey at 2:12 PM on December 28, 2010


Can we all just get along and mock those who pronounce toilet as "terlet"?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010


Despite my years in Toronto, jeather, we probably sound like siblings.
Are you Jewish? I have the other Jewish dialect (the more subtle one), which Boberg did not distinguish. (Most Montreal anglos, and all Montreal Jews, identify me as Jewish by my pronunciation. Boberg could not. It is, I have been told, something about the way I say 'I', but not in the Canadian raising way (which I also do). No one can identify it because apparently I use it only with other Jews. I have no idea, that is well beyond my phonological competence on even my best days.)

yep, it's all aboot the consonants.
It took me until I studied linguistics in university to figure out why all these songs did half-rhymes of "rider" and "writer", which are clearly different vowels.
posted by jeather at 3:11 PM on December 28, 2010


Can we all just get along and mock those who pronounce toilet as "terlet"?

Let's mock those who have signs saying "to let" all over the place, because it looks like they have streets full of public toilets that have lost their "i"s. And then, when you do finally find a public toilet, you have to pay for it.
posted by XMLicious at 4:47 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


After moving from England to the US as an adult, I found Albion's Seed to be a clear and thorough explanation of many of the differences between American regions.

"According to Fischer, the foundation of American culture was formed from four mass emigrations from four different regions of the British Isles by four different socio-religious groups."

East Anglia to Massachusetts - The Exodus of the English Puritans
The South of England to Virginia - Distressed Cavaliers and Indentured Servants
North Midlands to the Delaware - The Friends' Migration
Borderlands to the Backcountry - The Flight from Middle Britain and Northern Ireland

If you have a sense of the history of each region of the UK, this is a good start.
posted by mdoar at 9:45 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I's the b'y that builds the boat,
I's the b'y that sails her,
I's the b'y that catches the fish
And brings 'em home to Lizer.
posted by bwg at 4:22 AM on January 2, 2011


« Older The AP reports that the drug policy in Portugal is...  |  Take oysters, parboile hem in ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments