Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Wed Jul 21 21:53:19 UTC 2004

Close but no cigar. Yes, forty (with open o) falls together with
farty (with short o), but four (with long o) is actually preserved in
St Louis, as it is in my dialect (Louisville) ,one of the few which
keeps the hoarse-horse distinction. (Alas, used to keep the
hoarse-horse distinction, I should say.) Therefore, the
representation of FARRist versus FOURist is not a good pair to
illustrate homophony since the two are distinct. As usual, folk facts
are not up to this level of sophistication, and even locals use
fourty-four as a joke phrase (farty-far) which,in local performance,
does not in fact happen.

Luckily, Jill Goodheart at MSU (goodhear at msu.edu)has just finished an
important study of St. Louis vowels (confirming, by the way, Labov's
observation of the presence of the Northern Cities Shift there) so we
have up-to-date acoustic information of these facts.


>On Jul 21, 2004, at 1:30 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: A nursery rhyme
>>>Now that's a first for me!
>>I also (NYC, born 1945) grew up saying [ar at gan], with primary on the
>>first and secondary on the last syllable.  I too was ridiculed out of
>>it, along with my [a] vowel in "forest", "corridor", "moral", etc.
>>(when I was an undergraduate in Rochester, NY).  And I also natively
>>rhymed "forehead" and "horrid" as C[ar at d] in that particular rhyme
>>(which my mother was quite fond of), but I later spelling-corrected
>>"forehead" to the compound stress version (as in "car-head"), before
>>all those [a]s mutated into open o's.  So now I'm a
>>forehead-as-in-whorehead speaker, even though I know it's "supposed
>>to be" [for at d] as in "horrid" (with an open-o).  And I've switched to
>>[or at g@n]--still can't get that [i] for the middle vowel ("Orygun").
>Larry, the description of your former pronunciation of "forest," etc.
>sounds like a description of one of the features of St. Louis English.
>As a child, did you consider it hilarious if you could con someone into
>saying a number between 39 and 50, because "fort(y)" had fallen
>together with "fart(y)"? I remember a teacher who was a native of Omaha
>specifically using "forest" - our FARRist v. his FOURist - as his
>example in a fruitless attempt to demonstrate ("What? YOU're the one
>who talks funny!) that we St. Louisans spoke with a distinctive local
>>>The classic pronunciation of those who don't hail from the state is
>>>[origa:n], and I've also heard [ar at g@n] (both in contrast to the
>>>[orig at n]).  But this is the first I've heard of the variant you report
>>>using, which sounds like a blend of the two "furriner" pronunciations
>>>Peter Mc.
>>>--On Tuesday, July 20, 2004 2:32 PM -0700 Jonathan Lighter
>>><wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
>>>>Exactly.  And I used to say /a/ reg /a/ n  {Oregon) too till I was
>>>>ridiculed out of it.
>>>Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
>>>******************* pmcgraw at linfield.edu ************************

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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