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 Post subject: Route or route?
Post #1 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:23 am 
Oza

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Question for Americans, please.

I was watching Chicago PD last night (yes, yes - it's still quasi-lockdown but I haven't succumbed to daytime tv yet). In the same episode, the word 'route' came up twice. One actor said 'rout' and the other 'root'.

I am well aware that both pronunciations are current in the US. My strong impression is that 'rout' is commoner and my vague impression is that 'root' is a bit classier. But classiness is clearly not normally much to do with Chi-town's projects, so I'd have expected the same pronunciation in both cases, on the assumption that pronunciations tend to be regional if not class-based.

What is the US view of this divide?

(For the non-natives here, 'root' is the usual pronunciation outside America).

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Post #2 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:12 am 
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I grew up in the American South, and said rout, as well as cain't, Eyetalian, tomorruh, and pronounced pin and pen the same.

I still say tomorruh, but now I say minnow. I sometimes say pin and whin, etc. Oh, yes. I pronounced when as win. My sister taught me to add the aspiration before I entered school. I dropped cain't and added pen by age 7 or so, because of peer pressure. A friend corrected my Eyetalian at around age 14. "You don't say Eyetaly, do you?" ;)

I became aware of the root pronunciation at age 13 or so and decided on my own to switch to it because of its French origin. Later most kids I knew switched because of the popular TV show "Route 66". Upon reflection, I realized that I still sometimes say rout for an unofficial or not well trodden way, for instance, "He took a circuitous rout up the hill." But if I travel somewhere I often plan my root.

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 Post subject: Re: Route or route?
Post #3 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:37 am 
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! still say tomorruh, but now I say minnow.


That's a completely new one to me (except as a fish). I say tomorruh if I'm trying to sound educated, but left to my own devices I say "in the mornin", even after 50 years in London.

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I pronounced when as win. My sister taught me to add the aspiration before I entered school.


I say 'wen'. The hwen pronunciation was common when I was a lad but was dying out in my area. It's still common in much of Scotland. I have an Ulster Scots friend who doesn't say when at all - he says whenever. Does that survive in Appalachia?

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I dropped cain't and added pen by age 7 or so, because of peer pressure.


I say cahn't in polite company, otherwise canna. There's a well known pun here. What's the difference between a rich Scotsman, a poor Scotsman and a dead Scotsman? A rich Scotsman has a canopy over his bed. A poor Scotsman has a can o' pee under his bed. A dead Scotsman canna pee at all.

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A friend corrected my Eyetalian at around age 14.


I don't think I've heard Eyetalian, but Eyeties is common (at least among those who don't fear the PC brigade). But really, really common is Eyebeetha (Ibiza), especially among those who go there supposedly on "holiday". It's a busman's holiday because they just go there to do exactly what they do every day at home - i.e. get pissed and fornicate, and nowadays spread CV everywhere.


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Post #4 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:08 pm 
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I grew up in the northwest corner of the US, and mostly say "rout". The only exception I can think of is "root 66" (because there's a song where it's pronounced that way) but I think I may make other exceptions I'm not thinking of.

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Post #5 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:33 pm 
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Southern California here, and have only heard 'router' pronounced as [rauter], as in NetGear, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Route or route?
Post #6 Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:50 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
I grew up in the American South, and said rout, as well as cain't, Eyetalian, tomorruh, and pronounced pin and pen the same.

I still say tomorruh, but now I say minnow. I sometimes say pin and whin, etc. Oh, yes. I pronounced when as win. My sister taught me to add the aspiration before I entered school. I dropped cain't and added pen by age 7 or so, because of peer pressure. A friend corrected my Eyetalian at around age 14. "You don't say Eyetaly, do you?" ;)

I became aware of the root pronunciation at age 13 or so and decided on my own to switch to it because of its French origin. Later most kids I knew switched because of the popular TV show "Route 66". Upon reflection, I realized that I still sometimes say rout for an unofficial or not well trodden way, for instance, "He took a circuitous rout up the hill." But if I travel somewhere I often plan my root.

I grew up in the Northeast, but my parents were both from the midwest, so what do I know. Nevertheless, my first thought here was that no one (at least of a certain age) would say "Route" 66. But similarly, I think that the normal term on the east coast would be "Root" 1 for the road that runs from Canada to the tip of Florida. Does anyone from a southeastern state call it "Route" 1? More broadly, it seems natural to me to apply "Root" to any road name.

Personally, my first instinct is to say "route" for the chosen path from city A to city B if I am traveling. However, "root" in this context does not sound strange to my ear.

For the last few years I have been working as an adjunct professor of accounting in Tokyo. With the switch to online classes (via Zoom), I have been reviewing videos of my classes on a regular basis. It is quite an eye-opener in terms of my pronunciation in general. Here I thought that I was speaking English for 60-odd years only to discover that half of it is the next best thing to gibberish! :blackeye:

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 Post subject: Re: Route or route?
Post #7 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:26 am 
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It is quite an eye-opener in terms of my pronunciation in general. Here I thought that I was speaking English for 60-odd years only to discover that half of it is the next best thing to gibberish!


There's an awful lot more to it than pronunciation. There's intonation. There are non-verbal cues such as head-shaking (these are especially common here with people of Indian origin, and cause a lot of confusion through being misinterpreted). There's different grammar: where I come from the plural is not used after numbers (hence, '50 year' or, to quote Burns "And I will come again, my luve,/ Though it were ten thousand mile."; and modal verbs such as 'shall' and 'may' are used quite differently)

Then there's idiom, and I came across a good example in Chicago in another episode of Chicago PD last night. I forget the exact wording but it was something like "You'll keep me in the loop" and it clearly meant "Will you keep me in the loop?"

I had a lot of trouble when I moved south (and still do) with requests. Where I come from, let's say I'm eating a bag of chips (that's proper chips - not crunchy crisps). I would not be surprised if someone came over and said, "You can give me one of those." I would unthinkingly proffer the bag. And we might start chatting. He was being polite. If he had said, "Can you give me one of those, please?" I would instantly be on red alert. I'd expect to me mugged. But that, and much poncier versions - "Would be mind awfully if I asked for one of those" - are normal down South, and whenever I, as an "immigrant", asked for something in my normal way, I would be met by glaring stares. I twigged on to the difference early on, but actually adjusting to it is something that still makes me uncomfortable. And I still regard poncey southerners as foreigners.

Nowadays, of course, we have to add to the mix real foreigners who mix up elements of British/world English and US/Hollywood English and add dashes of exotic pronunciations and intonations. Fine, but the old advice to avoid making jokes in a foreign languages still applies.

A further element seems to be creeping back in, not just in English but in languages all around the world. Having spent the last 50 years being homogenised by television and national education programmes, with consequent loss of local languages and dialects, many areas are re-asserting themselves and identifying themselves as "different" by going back to their local languages and dialects. Hooray!

Yet another element not to be overlooked is willingness to accept these differences. Americans seem strangely unwilling to adjust to non-American dialects. I say "strangely" because it's not what I would have expected from a country where immigrant origins are still fresh. In Britain we have been used to so many different dialects through the Commonwealth, we barely bat an eyelid. The one exception is Scots and northern dialects in general. As soon as they hear the Caledonian lilt, very many poncey southerners just shut their ears and claim not to understand a word. Faced with northern English speakers, the commonest reaction is to accept they can understand, but the look of disgust on their faces shows they think they are making a huge effort.

This in part explains the Red Wall that is being talked about now in British politics. When I was young the North-South divide was even further north, at the real Hadrian's Wall. Then there had been some sort of national unity throughout World War 2, but over time that has faded again and economic and class differences have re-asserted themselves, so that we now have wall drift.

To help non-natives appreciate some of what is being talked about, here is a YouTube link to a chat show that shows the adorable Lily Tomlin struggling to understand Scottish comedian Kevin Hughes. Since Hughes is actually speaking English here, not Scots, my first impression was that Lily was putting it on, hamming it up. But as the conversation proceeded she was becoming swivel-eyed in consternation, and I just don't believe any actor is good enough to fake that look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuxb1Ou9cMg

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 Post subject: Re: Route or route?
Post #8 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:41 am 
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Strange for me to see this discussion.

It's not just "route" of course. Note how in the particular part of the country "roof", "root", are pronounced as well as the ones where there is no difference like "foot", and "boot". That last pair can be useful when discussing the ones where tee is a diffeence (are they like "foot" or like "boot")

The origins of this particular difference are related to "from what part of the British Isles and when" the settlers arrived and what was their migration path across what is now the US.

But the strangeness is in being surprised by differences of language in widely separated areas. In the UK you only have to go a few hundred miles to find much wider differences. They don't speak the same down south around London as they do up north in Yorkshire.

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Post #9 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:30 am 
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But the strangeness is in being surprised by differences of language in widely separated areas. In the UK you only have to go a few hundred miles to find much wider differences. They don't speak the same down south around London as they do up north in Yorkshire.


If this refers to my post, I'm not sure you read the OP correctly. I was commenting on a difference in the
Quote:
same
area. As to differences in north and south UK, well that was the tenor of my last post.

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the ones where there is no difference like "foot", and "boot". That last pair can be useful when discussing the ones where tee is a diffeence (are they like "foot" or like "boot")


I don't think you'll foot and boot are a minimal pair that allows you to go back over linguistic time. In Scotland (source of much US speech, as you note) you get fit and buit for this pair (among others things) and in England the pronunciation can be quite different, too. Also both words have a different plural form and so the quality the vowel has long been recognised as inherently different.

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Post #10 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:51 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
It is quite an eye-opener in terms of my pronunciation in general. Here I thought that I was speaking English for 60-odd years only to discover that half of it is the next best thing to gibberish!


There's an awful lot more to it than pronunciation. There's intonation.


One difference between British English and American English is intonation. American English is much more monotonic. The only exception I am aware of is in Appalachia. In a documentary I watched last year one Appalachian native said, "We kind of sing." Because of its isolation, I suppose, the Appalachian dialect has not changed much since the 1600s. When I was in college it was said that the closest modern dialect to Shakespearean English was spoken in the Tennessee hills. Today, I guess, opinion has shifted and the dialect in offshore islands of Virginia now has the nod. I am not familiar with that dialect, but I used to amuse myself with the thought that Macbeth's soliloquy upon hearing of his wife death would have horrified Shakespearean actors of the mid-20th century.

"There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow,"

might have sounded something like this.

"Air would uh bin a time fer such a word.
To-morrrr and to-morrrr and to-morrrr,"
;)

The Appalachian dialect and, I think, the offshore dialect have preserved the so-called Pirate's R.

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A further element seems to be creeping back in, not just in English but in languages all around the world. Having spent the last 50 years being homogenised by television and national education programmes, with consequent loss of local languages and dialects, many areas are re-asserting themselves and identifying themselves as "different" by going back to their local languages and dialects. Hooray!


Along those lines I noticed, with delight, that on American TV dramas accents which once had been taboo were creeping back in for regular people. On national TV newspeople pretty much adhere to the "standard' mid-Western accent, however.

Quote:
Yet another element not to be overlooked is willingness to accept these differences. Americans seem strangely unwilling to adjust to non-American dialects. I say "strangely" because it's not what I would have expected from a country where immigrant origins are still fresh.


Yes, it is strange, isn't it? One phenomenon I have noticed is that the most recent immigrants are looked down upon. That was so even in liberal Hawai'i when I was living there. Then the most recent immigrant group was Filipinos, who were on the bottom, just below Samoans. Language is a distinguishing characteristic of group identity.

There are exceptions to recency, OC. Two American dialects that are looked down upon are Ebonics and the Redneck (Scotch-Irish) dialect. They are taken to indicate stupidity or ignorance. Redneck is now acceptable on TV, though. Back around 1990 the Oakland, California, school district decided to have at least some classes taught in Ebonics. This caused a national flap. I was online at the time, and some pretty vile things were said. Both dialects, OC, are perfectly fine. :)

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In Britain we have been used to so many different dialects through the Commonwealth, we barely bat an eyelid. The one exception is Scots and northern dialects in general. As soon as they hear the Caledonian lilt, very many poncey southerners just shut their ears and claim not to understand a word. Faced with northern English speakers, the commonest reaction is to accept they can understand, but the look of disgust on their faces shows they think they are making a huge effort.

This in part explains the Red Wall that is being talked about now in British politics. When I was young the North-South divide was even further north, at the real Hadrian's Wall. Then there had been some sort of national unity throughout World War 2, but over time that has faded again and economic and class differences have re-asserted themselves, so that we now have wall drift.

To help non-natives appreciate some of what is being talked about, here is a YouTube link to a chat show that shows the adorable Lily Tomlin struggling to understand Scottish comedian Kevin Hughes. Since Hughes is actually speaking English here, not Scots, my first impression was that Lily was putting it on, hamming it up. But as the conversation proceeded she was becoming swivel-eyed in consternation, and I just don't believe any actor is good enough to fake that look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuxb1Ou9cMg


When I was living in Japan I often went to British movies. It usually took me about a half hour before I could understand the speech. About the only word I recognized right away was Supaah (Super), which I think was in vogue at the time. Since then I have watched a lot of British movies and TV, and it took me only a few seconds to mostly understand Hughes. After that I missed only few things during the show. I think one thing that makes it difficult for people who are not used to it is the glottal stop (ɂ), which is produced in the back of the mouth, instead of the t, which is produced in the front. For instance, early on Hughes says, "awraiɂ" for "all right", and "chariɂy" for "charity". I also detect a liquid l in "people", which is part of my speech and sounds somewhat like "uh". For instance, back home I was often called "Biuh". Again, it is produced in the back of the mouth, not the front. I'm still not sure how he pronounced the second "p" in people. Add to those things differences in vowel sounds and intonation and there is a lot to get used to.

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Post #11 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:34 am 
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When I was living in Japan I often went to British movies. It usually took me about a half hour before I could understand the speech.


That reminds me of a couple of things from my university days.

One was going a to see a British film* in Czechoslovakia. It was the comedy Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. It was dubbed, and so the locals laughed in the appropriate places - except for one. The lead character played by Terry Tomas was frantically trying o shoo someone away but was speaking from behind a window pane, so his voice didn't come through. But we Brits could lip read and he was saying a seven-letter phrase that was not allowed on air at the time. We were in stitches and the poor locals just stared at us mutely.

The other one, connected here only because it was from university time, was to do with the incredible skill of interpreters. Some of our lecturers were people taking a sabbatical from jobs such as interpreting at the UN, which was so stressful for them they had to take long breathers. But they told us about colleagues who never seemed to show any symptoms of stress. One could apparently interpret live, in the booth, between languages A and B while doing a crossword in language C. There was another who showed great presence of mind when a speaker cracked an untranslatable joke at the podium. Without missing a beat she drawled into the microphone, "The Polish delegate has just made an untranslatable joke. He would appreciate it if you all laughed."

Interpreting also reminds me of a contretemps which brings us indirectly back to Appalachia. A Japanese interpreter wrote a memoir in which he described attending a round-table discussion to interpret at a meeting between Japanese and American businessmen. The Japanese described their product as the 'honmono'. The interpreter saw that as a chance to show off his English, and so rendered it as, "This is the real McCoy". At which point one American yelped in delight and started talking about his Appalachian ancestors. The flummoxed interpreter just conveyed it all straight into Japanese. I still giggle at the description of the faces of the bemused Japanese businessmen.

And Appalachia reminds me of another pronunciation question. I've been watching several documentaries on bluegrass and country music. I sense that natives of the area say the stressed 'a' as in bad, but refined folk say it as in bade. Is that right?


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Post #12 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:49 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
And Appalachia reminds me of another pronunciation question. I've been watching several documentaries on bluegrass and country music. I sense that natives of the area say the stressed 'a' as in bad, but refined folk say it as in bade. Is that right?


Sorry, that doesn't ring a bell. Could you give an example or two? Thanks.

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Post #13 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:21 am 
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Sorry, I meant the pronunciation of the word Appalachia itself.

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Post #14 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:03 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Sorry, I meant the pronunciation of the word Appalachia itself.


I grew up saying appalaysha, but I'm not from there. It was only recently that I heard natives pronounce it app-a-latch-ya. I take that as correct, and looking around the internet just now, with little success, for how to pronounce the Appalachian dialect, I discovered that the aysha pronunciation is of relatively recent origin. And, I suppose, a pronunciation of flatlanders like myself. Any class distinction, which was not the case where I grew up, probably comes from the fact that the Appalachian dialect is generally looked down upon in the US.

As for the "sha" ending, Americans have a tendency to throw in an sh pronunciation for ch spelling of non-English words. An echo of the French, I suppose, to sound more civilized. Another instance is shakra for chakra. (Along those lines, Natchez in French probably rhymed with Apache in Spanish. Not sure, as the French wiped out the Natchez in retaliation for the massacre of the French Fort Rosalie. The Natchez had a matrilineal patriarchal society. Not too many of those.)

BTW, I also discovered that this year is the 100th anniversary of the Matewan massacre. If anybody has not seen the movie, it's worth watching. :)

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Post #15 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:23 pm 
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I grew up in the US Midwest and say "root" for both a path on a map and for the underground part of a plant. I, and everyone I knew, said Appalachia with the short flat "a" but when I got to university I encountered people who taught me how the residents of Appalachia say it. I occasionally watch the UK program "Antiques Roadshow" which moves around the UK, thus attracting people from different regions. Often I have to focus hard to understand and sometimes fail completely. The appraisers, though, rarely fail to understand.

People interested in US speech might find a lot of information in the book American Voices by Walt Wolfram and Ben Ward : https://smile.amazon.com/American-Voice ... 618&sr=8-7

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Post #16 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:15 pm 
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People interested in US speech might find a lot of information in the book American Voices by Walt Wolfram and Ben Ward : https://smile.amazon.com/American-Voice ... 618&sr=8-7


This wasn't available on UK Amazon - pity - but it did remind me I could use YouTube (doesn't matter how many times it happens, but I never think of using the internet unless I am reminded to). And what I found there amazed me. There was one video that illustrated accents for every US State. I didn't even the slightest problem with ANY of them, and I'm 75% deaf. I rarely watch tv so I'm not exposed to American speech all that much, and I've only been to about half of the states in person. So why can I cope with their accents and they can't cope with British accents?

I don't have any special gifts. I think most Brits would have a similar take on it to me. But many Brits do have problems with other Brits.

My first thought on this is that all Americans are speaking the same language, and just have different accents and, especially, intonation. But in Britain there is actually a divide between two languages: a group dominated by Old Northumbrian, which covered an area from Scotland down to central England, and a group dominated by Mercian, which covered the extreme south. They were separate languages because they had separate grammars. Despite atrophy over time, they have strong residues, which means northern speech differs not just in accent or intonation but also in grammar, idiom and vocabulary.

There are also some surprising influences from Celtic languages on northern speech. For example, I don't normally use the word movie. I write film. But I say fillum. This insertion of an extra vowel applies to many similar words. It comes from Gaelic. The use of hard and soft consonants that will be familiar to some from Russian (and quite a few other languages) is a strong feature of Gaelic and crops up in the speech of non-Gaelic people. E.g. I say (when not speaking "proper" English) fyess for face. There are also some word-order differences from Gaelic. I personally am not familiar with contributions from Welsh, but I know there are some. So all in all, maybe British people have more on their plate when dealing with other Brits.

These two strains of language were undoubtedly taken to America, but my guess is that people from mixed origins moved round there more freely and widely, and so the atrophy developed at a faster pace.

There may be some cultural differences, too. People, especially children, like to differentiate themselves. American children don't wear a school children and can be as different in dress as they like (or at least that is my impression). British (and Commonwealth) children have to wear school uniforms. Maybe they like to differentiate themselves through language????


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Post #17 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:57 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:

There may be some cultural differences, too. People, especially children, like to differentiate themselves. American children don't wear a school children and can be as different in dress as they like (or at least that is my impression). British (and Commonwealth) children have to wear school uniforms. Maybe they like to differentiate themselves through language????


Dress is certainly a way for people in the US to differentiate themselves. I know people who want their children in (private) school to wear uniform because it removes the economic class shown by how people dress. For children in pubic school there is a strong tendency to wear the same kind of clothes, even though the children have freedom to dress however they want. Usually this is driven by sport shoes, team logos, TV characters, entertainers, etc.

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Post #18 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:36 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
My first thought on this is that all Americans are speaking the same language, and just have different accents and, especially, intonation.


That could well be. A few years ago I ran across some 19th century writings where the authors intended to indicate provincial speech. They were all recognizable as present day Southern twang. Even in places like Pennsylvania. I suspect that the Southern drawl, which my family spoke, is a more recent development. For instance, I know that Southern Black speech at that time sounded pretty much like Southern White speech, despite grammatical differences. In the Uncle Remus tale of the Tar Baby, Br'er Rabbit hits the Tar Baby "tuck side er de haid." (As I recall. I used to have a copy.) That sounds nothing like the Southern drawl of today. It's not exactly the modern Southern twang, either, but "haid" is closer to the twang than the drawl. The "f" in "of" is dropped in both Southern dialects, but the Pirate's R is more often retained in the twang. The "de" is recognizably Black, probably from the lack of the English "th" sound in West Africa.

I suspect also that Abraham Lincoln spoke with the twang of his neighbors in Kaintuck (Kentucky). I doubt if he dropped any consonants in the Gettysburg Address, however.

So it may well be this dialect that spread West in the 19th century, which is why Americans sound so much alike to you.

Edit: BTW, if you watch some American fillums of the 1930s and 40s -- Claire Booth Luce's "The Women" comes to mind -- you can hear an American Anglophile social dialect that has since disappeared, but was taken to indicate culture in the speaker.

Edit2: Also "It" (1927) with Clara Bow. The woman who espouses her theory of "It" definitely uses that accent. Not that I recommend this movie, but I do recommend "The Women". :)

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Post #19 Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:50 pm 
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When we were kids, we delivered newspapers on bikes, which I have only ever heard referred to as a having a paper rowt. In all other contexts, I hear both pronunciations used regularly.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, for what it's worth.


This post by mhlepore was liked by: Bill Spight
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 Post subject: Re: Route or route?
Post #20 Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:35 am 
Oza

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Quote:
Pirate's R


I've never heard this phrase but I assume it refers to the "ooo arrr" sound we make when imitating pirates. It would be interesting to know why we make that R association with pirates on both sides of the Pond. How do other languages imitate pirtaes?

Quote:
When we were kids, we delivered newspapers on bikes, which I have only ever heard referred to as a having a paper rowt.


We call that a paper round. But the real difference seems to be that we actually got off our bikes and delivered the papers - put them through the letter box. In America, however, it seems to be a daily affirmation of the American right to bear arms and guided missiles :)

(Maybe younger people here need to be told what a newspaper is....)

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