Local pronunciations

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 27 16:31:37 UTC 2005

On 10/26/05, Damien Hall <halldj at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Damien Hall <halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Local pronunciations
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fritz said:
> 'Well, here in Oregon, we have Lebanon, not to be confused with the country,
> which is Lebanon. What's the diff, you ask? Well, the stress--the city's last
> syllable is pronounced exactly as the last syllable in the name of the state as
> pronounced by a Webfoot--Orygun (more or less), hence LEB uh nun (more or
> less).'
> I always seem to be the one saying 'Yes, but look at the British usage!' on this
> list.  I suppose it's a useful role!
> So, yes, Fritz, but look at the British usage!  For us, the country is like
> Lebanon, OR: LEB uh nuhn.  (Incidentally, the British native proununciation of
> 'Oregon', ie the one that most Brits would come up with on their own, is also
> the one favoured by Webfoots, I'm told (*modulo* vowel quality):  the stress is
> the Oregonian one, with only one stress, O ruh guhn, as opposed to the primary-
> and secondary-stressed variant used by some non-Oregonian Americans, O ruh GON,
> or something.)
> I can add the following to the growing collection of local pronunciations of
> placenames which differ from that of the ur-placename:
> - berLIN, Germany, but BERlin, CT and NH (cf also the stress-placement in the
> phrases 'berLIN' (the city in Germany) but 'BERlin WALL')
> - Newark, NJ = NEWark, like the English town, but Newark, DE = newARK, with two
> primary stresses, as if it were still two words
> - all the Welsh place-names in Greater Philadelphia, which are pronounced as
> they would be if they were of English-language origin:  here the difference is
> not one of stress but one of segment, so 'Gwynedd' has a /d/ at the end in PA
> but an /eth/ (voiced interdental fricative) at the end in Wales;  Bala Cynwyd
> has completely different vowels in PA from those it has in Wales;  and of
> course the famous Bryn Mawr, PA = /brIn ma:r/, but Bryn Mawr in Welsh = /brUn
> maeUr/ or similar, I think.
> Damien Hall
> University of Pennsylvania

There's also a BERlin in Massachusetts. Perhaps, if not for the wars,
BERlin would have  become the standard U.S. English pronunciation of
the name of the capital of Germany, since the BERlin WALL rule also
applies to yield BERlin, GERmany.

-Wilson Gray

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