pronuncation of BURY

Millie Webb millie-webb at CHARTER.NET
Sun Jul 21 22:59:31 UTC 2002

> I don't know about Iowa, but the bury-furry rhyme was common in my
> generation in Minnesota.  At some point I switched to bury-berry, probably
> through schooling in "proper" English.


That must be why I thought that "bury" pronounced like "burry" sounded
'hick-ish' and old-fashioned.  I have to wonder if it had something to do
with the many native Norwegians in the Southern Minnesota in the 1850s to
1920s.  It sounds like something the Norwegian-as-first-language Minnesotans
I have known would say. (especially those who would now be 70-100 years
old).  I know I have never said "bury" as anything but "berry".   And on
this topic, notice that most of the questions we seem to have on this type
of sounds (besides the classic Merry-Mary-Marry) are questions about names.
Names are different.  You pronounce a name the way everyone else around you
pronounces it (unless the bearer tells you differently).  So, I have no
problem imagining saying "Craig" as "cregg" or "crayg" (like Hague).  Or
"Gary" like "merry" or "Mary" or "marry", depending on how someone was
introduced to me.  Naturally, myself, I would say "Gary" like "Mary" (not
really different from how I say "marry"), and "Craig" like "cregg". I have
never run into anyone who did not like the way I said their name (anyone
with either of those two names, anyway).

My sister, during and since college, has a friend from Saulte St Marie in
Michigan (I may have spelled that wrong, living in Wisconsin now), who is
named "Lana".  Not only would she not tell me when I asked whether it was
[lanna] or [layna], she claimed she could not hear a difference, and
responded to either one.  I had noticed she did not seem to care, and
responded to either one; but I was very surprised when she told me she could
not even hear that I was saying it two different ways.

Anyway, my point is, that names are always tricky when you start talking
about pronunciation: especially the new ones (I met a girl named "Solare"
today, but she and everyone else pronounces it [solar], with no schwa or [E]
at the end).  The older ones are spelled differently (if you're lucky), and
pronounced differently according to tradition in that family's speech, in my
experience.  Just like "Jan" as a man's name being [yahn] or [jan], or how
you say the [s] on the end of "Lars".  So anyway, there's my two cents:
names are almost always lexically variant for individuals, and not
necessarily according to some overall phonemic rule.
-- Millie

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