Staunton, VA

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Dec 5 16:34:05 UTC 2000

At 09:12 PM 12/4/00 -0500, you wrote:
>{AU} is a renaissance spelling for "open o" as is {for} as distinct from
>{far}.  The development of "short o" in the 17th-century is of
>unrounding.  The example of words like {drop} {stop} {strop} &c. which
>lost their rounding (the last being respelled > {strap} as well) may
>well help us out with Staunton.  If the town's name originally had a
>rounded vowel and pronounced STAWN-t'n and the vowel become unround with
>other words that sounded like it--despite their different phonetic
>histories--then STAHN-t'n is the result.  Compare {Washington},
>{orange}, {sorry} or {Florida} with either a round or an unround vowel.
>In the US only the east preserves round vowels and only in limited
>circumstances, before /r/ or /g/ or {ng} and voiceless fricatives; the
>unrounding which began in England continues in the midwest and west, so
>that {law} = {la}, {auto} = {otto}, &c
>-- db
>David Bergdahl                 einstein at     tel: (740)
>                               home page:

But we're talking about the further fronting of STAHN-t'n and (presumably)
CHAHN-cey to the /ae/ (ash) vowel.  My point was that this fronting may
have already occurred in parts of England before the family name was
brought to America.  A student of mine has traced the name of the town
Chauncey to a family in Philadelphia, which was settled largely from
Northern England, I believe, the area marked on the British dialects maps
as /ae/ pronouncing for 'aunt'.  I think Kurath & McDavid also discuss this
alternation as widespread throughout the eastern U.S. from early settlement
times.  Hence eventual 'strap' [straep] too.

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