Monthly Archives: July 2012

The ‘Near’ Monophthong or the ‘Near’ Diphthong

In non-rhotic accents, words like ‘near‘ and ‘fear‘ generally exhibit two pronunciation patterns: either a ‘centering’ diphthong (ɪə), which might crudely be transcribed ‘ih-uh;’ or as a monophthong, which is usually a lengthened version of the vowel in ‘kit‘ (ɪ:). … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Take / Have a Bath

Differences between American and British English constitute a set of near-cliched contrasts (‘we say elevator, while you say lift!’). I would add to this list the ‘have a bath/take a bath‘ distinction: the British ‘have‘ a bath, while we Americans … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 16 Comments

Pronunciation Mysteries: ‘Cinema’ and ‘Theatre’

Today’s post can be filed in the ‘questions I don’t have answers to’ box.  Two words, closely related by subject, exhibit unusual variation in dialects of English. Both, incidentally, involve going to the movies: 1.) Theatre (or theater).* In General American English … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 51 Comments

Adverbial ‘Wicked’

Growing up in a rural part of New England, ‘wicked‘ was a common staple of the local vocabulary. Not ‘wicked,’ mind you, as in the sense of ‘sinful’ or ‘evil.’ New Englanders convert this adjective to an adverb, creating a … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Right Thurr

A few years back, the rapper Chingy had a hit track entitled Right Thurr. The chorus goes something like this (forgive the awkward transcription): I like the way you do that right thurr, Switch your hips when you’re walkin’, let down your … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Father-Bother in New England

When people think of New England accents, they tend to think of the fronted /a/ in words like ‘start’ and ‘car‘ (as in ‘pahk yuh car in Hahvuhd yahd’). This /a/ can sound to outsiders somewhat like the ‘a’ in … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 27 Comments

Inanimate ‘Guy’ in American Dialects

The last time I discussed the word ‘guy,’ a generic term meaning ‘man,’ I mentioned a rather fascinating way in which the word has evolved in American dialects. ‘Guy’ has come to become synonymous, in some situations, with ‘thing.’ For … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 24 Comments

How George Washington Spoke (Brief Thoughts)

It’s the Fourth of July, the day when we Americans celebrate our nation’s independence from Britain. To celebrate (sort of), I am going to watch the HBO miniseries John Adams. At the time of the series’ release, I was intrigued by … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Where did ‘Aye’ go?

What is the status of ‘aye?’ General impressions suggest that ‘aye’ means ‘yes’ in Scotland, a chunk of Northern England, and presumably Northern Ireland. But beyond that, the picture of where the word is spoken, and even where it was … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 21 Comments