Open mouth, reveal origin. March 1, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: linguistics, local pronunciations, pronunciation, words as indicators of origin
Our friend Ben is from Nashville, but for whatever reason, I don’t have, or have ever had, a Southern accent, unlike my parents. But living as I do in scenic Pennsylvania, I’m very aware that, even if the general population couldn’t, a linguist could easily pinpoint my place of origin. That’s because I don’t pronounce certain words the way everyone up here pronounces them. And I suspect that, taken together, these key words would scream “Nashville” to someone trained in regional pronunciations. Here are some of the words that immediately spring to mind:
* Nashville. “Foreigners” tend to say “NASH-VILLE;” natives say “NASH-vull.”
* Zinnia. Up here in PA, folks say “ZINN-ee-ah;” back home, we say “ZEEN-yah.”
* Caramel. We say “CARE-uh-mel,” while up here, folks say “CAR-mel.”
* Interesting. We native Nashvillians say “IN-tresting.” Up here, it’s “In-TER-es-ting.”
* Adult. I grew up with “uh-DULT.” Now it’s “addled.” I’m not going there.
* Route. I say “root,” folks here say “rout.”
And so it goes. Those few key words provide the tipoff to those linguists who, like Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady,” can easily pinpoint one’s place of origin, at least if you don’t change the way you pronounce your words.
What words would give your origins away?