Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 21 02:52:57 UTC 2005

At 9:40 PM -0500 1/20/05, Wilson Gray wrote:
>I haven't noticed this particular phenomenon. However, FWIW, I once
>upon a time pronounced the word "cow" as "cowl." Then, one day, I
>suddenly noticed the disconnect between the spelling of the word and my
>pronunciation thereof. Nobody ever said anything to me about my
>mispronunciation, out of kindness or, perhaps, fear. As I've had
>occasion to find out the hard way, some people don't take it lightly
>when someone else presumes to "correct" their speech. It took me a
>while to realize that a person doesn't speak a particular idiolect
>because he's too stupid to know any better. Rather, he speaks that way
>because, for him, that way of speaking is the right was to speak.

Indeed.  Reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague today,
an Australian whose Historical Linguistics students kept mishearing
her pronunciation of _drawer_ ("The readings are in the course
drawer") as _draw_ until she finally wrote it on the blackboard.  Her
pronunciation is indeed r-less, but clearly bisyllabic--unlike that
of many of my fellow N'Yawkers, who do indeed have homonyms for the
two words (e.g. "in the draw").  I guess those final schwas must be
hard to hear (for those who don't have them in their own speech), but
she was somewhat put out.


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