Dueling dialects

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat Aug 21 15:38:11 UTC 2004

>And one on the Ohio River in Southern Indiana pronounced "byew-nuh"
>(or even "byew-nee" by a few old timers). They have also lost
>contact with the origin of the town name (though not the meaning). A
>place-name legend there has it that a local priest who knew Latin
>(sic) looked out one day, saw what a pleasant view it was, and named
>the town so (in Latin).


>In a message dated >  Fri, 20 Aug 2004 10:00:57 -0400,  David Bergdahl <
>  > einstein at FROGNET.NET> writes
>>  Ed (from SE PA/Philly) wrote:
>>  No way, the classical 3-way distinction was: Mary [e],
>>  merry [@], marry [ae]. Any other pronunciation is
>>  barbaric :)
>>  so merry = Murray??
>>  4-way splitting David from Valley Stream, LI, NY
>Make that a five-way split (six ways if you include "Maury").
>Murray is the modern form of "Morey", an old Scottish name, best known for
>"The Bonny Earl of Morey" of  Lady Mondegreen fame.
>This datum, oddly enough, was told to me by an African-American woman whose
>surname is Murray, who admits that she is NOT related to the Bonny Earl of
>Morey but does consider him an honorary relative.
>The mention of "Blount" and /blunt/ reminds me of an anti-eye pronunciation.
>After the US victory at Buena Vista in the Mexican War (the battle that made
>Jefferson Davis's reputation and thereby led to the Northern victory in the
>Civil War), veterans in at least two states (Kentucky and New
>Jersey) came home
>and founded towns whose names are written as "Buena" but pronounced /'boo
>      - Jim Landau

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic,
        Asian and African Languages
Wells Hall A-740
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office: (517) 353-0740
Fax: (517) 432-2736

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