Thursday, January 5, 2012

That crazy English language!

My daughters sent me these two fun language time wasters articles. The first, sent by Dänika, is a looooong rhyme about the inconsistencies of the English language. Copied here is just a wee sampling of what you'll find if you click on the link.

From:  The Poke - Time Well Wasted 

...River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age...
                        (...and lots more.)

This one, sent to me by Angela, is entitled Dialect Survey 

There is a long list of words and phrases, and it's fun to compare your pronunciation with that of your friends. I notice that even within Wisconsin, pronunciation can be different depending upon what part of Wisconsin one is from. And of course we're such a mobile society that it's really fun to hear how others pronounce things. I remember when I first heard my southern Californian cousin pronounce the word 'brown.' For the life of me, I cannot figure out how a linguist might write that sound, but in recalling it, I hear it coming from the mouth of Eliza in My Fair Lady, or Tuppence, calling me to come upstairs at night. :-) (Just kidding! no offense intended to you dear California bloggers!!)

A friend of ours from Florida once phoned, and in the middle of our conversation stopped and said, 'I just love hearing your Wisconsin accent!' (which of course seemed funny to me, for we don't think we have an accent. :-)

AND, I remember the first time I heard someone pronounce the word insurance with the stress on the first syllable. In NW Wisconsin, we say, inSURance, not INsurance. It's that type of thing that simply fascinates me. Then again, I am probably easily fascinated. Winters are long in NW Wisconsin.

SO, How do you pronounce:

3.the first vowel in "Bowie knife"
5.the vowel in the second syllable of "cauliflower"
6.the last vowel in "centaur"
8.Craig (the name)
10.creek (a small body of running water)
11.the first vowel in "Florida"

and you will find MANY many more if you follow that link above. I hope you enjoy this stuff as much as I do.

I realize that this doesn't come anywhere near the differences between American English and British English. The other night when I was RE-watching Downton Abbey, Daisy one of the young maids said to William, 'Dun be such a spalled spot.'*

LOVE those accents! :-)

And on this topic, might I suggest two of my very favorite movies: Stone of Destiny and Mrs. Brown. No, you will not find them at Mr. Movies. You're more likely to find them on Netflix or on   Move over Mr. Darcy.

Another language topic that interests me is regional phrases. For example, when I was little, my cousin from Milwaukee would come to the NW Wisconsin area where my family and my grandparents lived. My cousin, when visiting us, would say, 'We went by Grandma's today.'  I always wondered why on earth they would drive the 6-7 hours and not actually go TO Grandma's!'

Now go track down 'Mrs. Brown.'

AND, if you have some regional phrases you'd like to share -  or things that should be on these lists but aren't - Please share them with us!

*'Don't be such a spoiled sport.'

...and more! Check out all my handcrafted soaps at


Paulette said...

This morning I opened up an email from a friend who is a teacher and she sent me the same poem. I will have to give her your blog address so that she can see your post. ♥

Terri @ A Creative Princess said...

Here's mine. We live in Missouri and it drives me crazy when I here Missoura!

Good friends of ours are from Minnesota and I could listen to them talk all day!

I think the reason I love the movie Fargo so much is because of the accents.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That's the beauty of can actually underSTAND what I am saying! haha! I have a serious Southern drawl...born in Arkansas and lived in Texas most of my adult life! So I give every word an extra syllable or two! Right now my husband has put Vienna sausages on the grocery list. yuck...but that's another subject! He laughs at the way I say it! VIE een nie sausages! I don't eat them though! heeheehee! Hugs! ♥

Unknown said...

Well, I'm from Tennessee, enough said? But, what irritates me having lived in Kentucky for 14 yrs. they still make fun of the way I talk! Really? Now that is the pot calling the kettle black.

Carla from The River said...

Soda or Pop?
Blacktop or Tar?
It is fun, I agree. :-)

Teje Karjalainen said...

Hi! First I have to say that Bridger is adorable! I'm happy to meet you and your beautiful animals! Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog! x Teje & Nero

Ruth Kelly said...

Definite pop in the west; from Idaho they say crik for creek; I say Ant for Aunt. What gets me is the way people say Nevada who are not from the west. We say asphalt not blacktop. List could go on and on........

Anonymous said...

Oh I find languages to be very interesting. Being a Swede moving to Ireland hasn't been early [lol] having to get use to English spoken really fast and some words pronounced very funny. The accent here in Dublin is funny, and I kind of have to adjust. After five years it is much easier to get the hang of it, but it took me some 2 or 3 months. Some common sayings here are; They say WHA [meaning what but for some reason leaving out the T]
Or for example an expression that is kind of strange; - It's bleedin' deadly - which suppose to mean it's great. [go figure] It's funny and interesting though. I like you do enjoy languages and accents. Have a lovely Day!

Denise said...

Fun post.

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I love accents!
Dad has a Chicago accent and Mom is East Texas! And I am a SW Wisconsin!! Lol! Go figure!
Mostly the differance is Dad's accent is harder sounding and he can't talk any other way, even if he tries! Mom says her "e"s weird. Instead of pen it is pin.
When ever a go to Texas to pick up a few Ya'lls!! lol

jennyfreckles said...

Endlessly fascinating - words, accents, dialects.... My best bit of Yorkshire is "Tin tin tin." (It isn't in the tin.)

Under Her Wings said...

Oh, well, being a Southern girl, I'll have to email you some of my idiosyncracies.

Mama Hen said...

What a fun post! I love words and vocabulary. My mom, being from Germany but with somewhat of an English accent, says quite a few words differently. My sister say Q pons for coupons. We laugh all the time because she says Q and I say coo. I hope you are doing well! Have a great day!

Mama Hen

Cranberry Morning said...

and then there's grosh-eries vs. gro-sir-ees. So many, and I have loved reading all your responses! If you think of more, you can always come back and leave another comment. These are FUN!Thanks so much for your input!

Oh. I thought of another one: my kids say vague (rhyming with bag). I say vague, rhyming with, um...nothing I can think of! But it has a long 'a' when I say it.

Cranberry Morning said...

In reference to Carla's 'pop' or 'soda,' I think there are parts of Colorado where one might ask you, 'Would you like a Coke?' and if you say 'yes,' they would come back with, 'Pepsi or Mountain Dew?' (Huh???)

Under Her Wings said...

Okay....."fixin' to" and "over yonder"

How's that?

Angela said...

Where I went to school in western Pennsylvania, people would leave out words in their verbal phrases after "need". For example, instead of saying, "The car needs to be washed," they would say, "The car needs washed." Drove me crazy!!

Michelle said...

Oh, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. My oldest is learning to read and oh the inconsistencies of pronunciation. He's got all the letter sounds down and it's fun when he sounds it out and I'm like well not exactly see there's an exception here...

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, I love this!!! I studied a lot of linguistics in college, including studying both the history of the English language and its international variants. I will definitely be "wasting" time on these! It reminds me of the "I Love Lucy" episode in which Ricky tries reading a children's book and is frustrated by cough vs. bough vs. enough ... :)

As for pronunciations, this native NYC girl who's spent the past 30 years in Southeast Michigan (which is distinctly different linguistically from the Upper Peninsula) says:

1.aunt - ANT
2.been - BIN
3.the first vowel in "Bowie knife" - BOO
4.caramel - CAR-uh-MEL (CAR as in "marry")
5.the vowel in the second syllable of "cauliflower" - a blur of LIH and LUH
6.the last vowel in "centaur" - TOHR - KOO-pon
8.Craig (the name) - KRAYG
9.crayon - KRAY-on
10.creek (a small body of running water) - KREEK
11.the first vowel in "Florida" - FLOHR
12.flourish - FLOOHR

danika said...

First of all, Mom, Mr. Darcy is NOT going to move over for Mr. Brown. The very idea!!!

Secondly, I pronounce "vague" the same way you do. :P

Fun post! How do you say "bagel"?

Jan Elizabeth said...

Very fun post! Another thing I really enjoy is hearing different regional sayings, and how people not from those regions mangle them! My friend from South Africa was trying to say "I smell something fishy", and said, "I sniff a fish!" My children thought that was the most hilarious thing they'd ever heard and it has gone on to become a family saying. :)

Cranberry Morning said...

'I sniff a fish.' Love that. It is not one we will forget any time soon around here! :-) Thanks.

I remember when a young Mexican foreign exchange student stayed with us for a summer, I wrote to his mother and wanted to let her know the things we'd done to help 'break the ice.' Needless to say, I realized that I needed to find another way to say that.

Many years ago, when I was in Bolivia and had an attack of appendicitis, a native surgeon was advising me re. having my appendix removed. But since he felt the decision was mine to make, he said, 'I don't want to put you against the wall.' I was assuming that he meant 'I don't want to back you into a corner.' He loved practicing American idioms. :-)

Unknown said...

Love this post! We "went by grandma's" all the time!

Another big one back home was always "warsh" as in warshin' clothes.

J_on_tour said...

I'm a bit late here but this is my kind of thing too...
1) ant, 2) bean. 3) ow or oh ... not sure, 4) car mell, 5) collie flower, 6) cent-or, 7) coopo,n 8) crayg, 9) cray-on, 10) creek, 11) Floh rida, 12) Fluh rish and I would say inSURance too.


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