Stress patterns on words spelled with final <el> ... Streets

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Aug 26 09:11:59 UTC 2000

Mike Salovesh wrote:
> ... Chicago's Devon Avenue is a good illustration of more or
> less recent vowel shifting.  Fifty years ago, the most common
> pronunciation had a lower back vowel in that stressed second syllable:
> d@'vawn, using aw in place of turned c. I hear the low central A of
> "pop" or "pa" that Douglas Wilson notes much more from younger speakers
> than from those whose Chicagoese goes back to the 1940s or earlier.
> (Back in the 1930s, my home was at 6332 North Richmond; Devon is 6400
> north on Chicago's grid plan. I always use the lower back vowel.)
> You've got Goethe right.  Chicago's Goethe Street has an unvoiced theta,
> but otherwise sounds like "go thee"; the stress is on the first
> syllable. Pronounce Goethe as in German and you wouldn't be likely to
> find Goethe Street by asking Chicagoans.
> Back to Detroit:  What was that I heard about José Campau Street?
> (Excuse the spelling -- I've heard the name, but I haven't seen the
> street signs.)
I remember Chicago and Detroit well from the 1970's. Now that I think of
it, I did hear /d@'vOn/ a lot in Chicago [O like IPA reverse-c] ... but
I wouldn't have made much distinction, since many Chicago speakers might
tend toward /pOp/ 'pop' too, for example ... I think something close to
/pOp/ might predominate as close as Peoria or Champaign. The distinction
in this respect between Chicago (= Detroit, etc.) and Pittsburgh (e.g.)
is that in Chicago 'Don' and 'Dawn' sound different (/dAn/, /dOn/) while
in Pittsburgh they sound the same (/dOn/, /dOn/), regardless of the
exact sounds employed. Do/did Chicagoans pronounce 'Devon' to rhyme with
'Don' or with 'Dawn'? I think this was variable in my experience.

The German looking for Goethe St. wouldn't have any luck in Detroit either.

The street in Detroit named after Joseph Campau [a 3rd-generation
American of French ancestry, I think] showed something like "Jos.
Campau" on its street signs IIRC. Detroiters said "Campau" or "Joseph
Campau" or "Joe Campau" (/'k&mpO/ or /'k&mpow/ [& = IPA ash ('ae')] [I
use /ow/ = /ou/ or 'long-O']). Only recently and rarely have I
encountered the bizarre "José Campau" -- but then I haven't been in
Detroit recently. This is the 'main street' of the city ('suburb') of
Hamtramck (named after a [German-]French-Canadian immigrant),
traditionally 'Polish' (I think once > 80%) -- now a mixed place whose
2nd language may be Arabic rather than Polish.

-- Doug Wilson
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