"Diphthong" in the mouth of the South

Scot LaFaive slafaive at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 10 23:11:15 UTC 2008

>Have any other Southrons had a similar problem?

I'm not sure which problem you are referring to, but I will say that most
people in the field that I know go with


On 12/10/08, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "Diphthong" in the mouth of the South
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I was chatting with Carol, a white linguistics prof (phonetics) of
> about my age (32) at UC Davis in the late 'Sixties, at a party. In the
> course of the conversation, it came out that Carol and I, despite our
> respective standard-sounding accents, were natives of the same part of
> the country, she from Shreveport, LA, a mere hoot and a holler
> (ca.35mi.) from my natal town of Marshall, TX.
> Laughing, she pointed out that, despite being a professor of
> phonetics, she had only recently come to realize that she had been
> mispronouncing a very important term in that field.
> C, Yes. After all this time, come to find out that I've been mispronouncing
> it!
> W. Really? Which one?
> C. "Di[p]thong."
> W. And how were you mispronouncing it?
> C. Well, I've always been saying "di[p]thong."
> W. [confused] Ah, how should it be pronounced?
> C. "Di[p]thong"!
> W. [his head bugging] Oh, of course! Uh, you're saying that it should
> be "di[p]thong," right? And not "di[p]thong"?
> C. Right!
> W. Oh, wow! I'm glad that you brought that up! Because I've been using
> that same mispronunciation! So, it ought to be "di[p]thong" and not
> "di[p]thong," right?
> C. Exactly!
> W. [wondering, a la Richard Pryor: "Is the gull crayzih?"] Good. I
> think I've got it. Well, I'm going to get another beer.
> C. Okay.
> It was some five or so years later, while I was at M.I.T., that I
> *finally* flashed on the fact that the pronunciation is "di[f]thong."
> Have any other Southrons had a similar problem?
> -Wilson
> –––
> 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
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