Heard on tonight's CSI: standard English "Lord" > "Lard"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 5 17:41:41 UTC 2008

I'm not sure what you mean by, "If it's a part of your native variety,
it's really *there*, you know?", David, but I think that we're in

I'm grew up in Saint Louis, myself. I recall that a teacher at my high
school who was a native of Omaha once tried to point out this feature
of Saint Louis English. He told us that we had a peculiar way of
speaking; for example, we pronounced the name of the local
Central-Park equivalent, Forest Park, as FAH-rest Pork, when it should
be pronounced as FOUR-est Park. This flew over our heads, because we
said FAH-rest *Park*, not FAH-rest *Pork*!" We just laughed at him.

I was born in Texas and when we would go back "behind the sun" to
visit relatives, the locals would literally burst into laughter at our
speech. At the same time, my brother and I used to amuse ourselves by
mocking their East-Texas dialect.

I was chatting with a black New Yorker, when he suddenly laughed,
noting that "*You* say AH-tomatic; *I* say AW-tomatic!" I found this
to be really nervy, since we were in Boston, where my accent and his
were equally non-local. He had earlier bitched about the fact that a
white New Yorker had hassled him about his use of BE/SE UM-brella
instead of standard um-BRELLa. So, he laughed at *my* speech, but he
was pissed off because someone had corrected *his* speech.

The point, such as it was, of my post was merely to point out "Lord"
pronounced "lowered" vs. "Lord" pronounced "Lard," the latter being
possibly *the* marker of a Saint Louisan. The speaker was a well-known
black actor - unfortunately, I'm senior-momenting on his name - who
once had his own TV show. What I was trying to get at was that this
well-trained, experienced, standard-English-speaking actor was unable
to rid himself of the Saint Louis feature, "lord" > "lard." It's like
the case of the woman who voices a character in an animated-cartoon
commercial. Her use of "bean" for "been" gives her away as a Canadian.
His use of "lard" for "lord" gave him away as a Saint Louisan. That's

As you say, "if it's part of your native variety, it's really *there*."

I hope that this makes sense. I'm on several

Whoa! I've just heard a black woman from Texas pronounce "another" as
"an other."


All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 9:37 AM, David Bowie <db.list at pmpkn.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Heard on tonight's CSI: standard English "Lord" > "Lard"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Spoken by an actor who is a black native of Saint Louis of my age:
>> "_Lard_  [lOrd] have mercy!"
> I have a recording from between 2000 and 2002 (i'd have to check for the
> exact date) of an upper-middle-class male from the northern end of
> Utah's Wasatch Front, then in his late 70s, in a formal semi-scripted
> situation saying "on the [kOr], uh, [kar]ner", with some
> self-repair-type stress on the first syllable of "carner".
> If it's a part of your native variety, it's really *there*, you know?
> --
> David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
>     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
>     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
>     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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