James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat May 29 23:16:44 UTC 2004

I have on a few occasions heard natives of Baltimore mention the Preakness
horse race and invariably they rhymed the name with "weakness".  (Aside to
"DInIs" Preston:  I have no recollection whether the second vowel was a schwa or an

Caveat---none of these natives spoke the local Baltimore dialect known as
"Bawlmer" so I have no knowledge of how a Bawlmer-speaker pronounces the name.
(Or for that matter how much Bawlmer differs from General American).

Considering that "Derby" is pronounced by most Americans to rhyme with
"Kirby", whereas I believe the original "Derby" horse race in England was pronounced
with the vowel of the first syllable something like the "a" in "father" or
"arm", it is quite possible that "Preakness" originally rhymed with "breakfas' "
but when the race became famous people, presumably reading about it in the
newspaper (the race became famous before radio), assumed the first syllable
rhymed with "weak" rather than "break".
    - Jim Landau

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