On Campbells and camels

Natalie Maynor maynor at CS.MSSTATE.EDU
Thu Aug 3 13:15:46 UTC 2000

Rudy wrote:

> I wonder if the "camel" pronunciation is South Midland or SM-Southern?

I think I'm a datum supporting its being Southern.  The reason I say
"I think" is that I'm pretty sure I have at least a tiny hint of the
[b] in it most of the time now.  I'm not sure that I always have,
though.  Nor did the people around me in childhood since I remember
thinking that a neighbor up the street had an odd first name -- his
name to my ears was "Camel McCool."  I thought being named Camel was
weird.  Later I learned that it was spelled Campbell.

I just did a test on my elderly mother, whom I'm visiting at the moment,
but my wise methodology didn't work.  I asked her whether she remembered
the McCools in our old Jackson neighborhood.  She did.  I then asked if
she remembered the first name of their son.  She didn't.  Then I asked
her if she remembered the last name of my elementary-school friend named
Cay.  She didn't.  (Her memory is off and on these days.)  So finally I
wrote Campbell and asked her how she pronounced it.  There was a [b].
She agreed that she might be pronouncing it more self-consciously when
looking at it, though.  When I told her why I was asking, her thought
about it was the same as mine -- that she thinks she has a little bit
of a [b] in it but not very much.

She was born January 1914 in Huntsville, AL, but lived most of her life
in Mississippi.  I was born March 1943 in Jackson, MS, and have spent
almost all of my life in Mississippi.

   --Natalie Maynor (maynor at ra.msstate.edu)

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