Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri Jan 21 02:57:38 UTC 2005

At 09:40 PM 1/20/2005 -0500, you wrote:
>On Jan 20, 2005, at 8:09 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject:      Idea/ideal
>>I've had several (mostly ill-educated) students who found it difficult
>>or impossible to tell the difference between "idea" and "ideal."
>>They'd spell both as "ideal" - none went the other way.
>>Here's a good quote from
>>e83cb3058    (2000)
>>"John Adams said 'Hey, guys, let's write a Declaration of
>>Independence.' 'Neat ideal,' said John Hancock."What's a Declaration
>>of Independence?"
>>Other examples as far back as 1991 are easily found by Googling "neat
>>ideal."  Other collocations would turn up more, I'm sure.
>>The students I'm thinking of even *said* "ideal" for "idea." Anybody
>>else notice this?
>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 way to speak.

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Adding a "dark /l/ after a vowel and especially intervocalicly is common in
the South Midland and, presumably, South.  My southern Ohio students do it
all the time.  And it isn't a "mispronunciation"; it's simply a variant
pronunciation; no one in the same region would "correct" you, since they
very likely used it themselves.  "Ill-educated" students are simply
spelling the way they speak.  I had a graduate student who spelled
"drawing" as "drawling" until she was slapped down (literally, I think) by
her teacher.  She never got over it.

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