Heard on The Judges: interesting (only to me?) dialect

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 16 20:22:46 UTC 2008

A late-thirty-ish, white, male speaker from North Carolina who spoke
with an almost-stereotypical, rale slow, Deep-Southern drawl, with
[daUg] for "dog," [hi at l] for "hill," etc., except that it was fully
r-ful. (By "Deep-Southern," I mean basically that part of the old
"Black Belt" South from South Carolina through East Texas.) The
speaker also used "woif (wife)  "roight" (right) "boik" (bike), etc.,
a feature so striking that it even drew my wife's attention, and
pronounced "I, my, lie," etc. so that they really did sound like "ah,
mah, lah."

It was only the second time that I had heard that type of
pronunciation used in real life. The only other person that I've ever
met who used "ah," etc., was from Georgia. Oddly, I was never able to
determine whether she was black or white. Back in the day, asking a
person who thought himself white whether he was black or white would
have been a serious insult and posing that question to someone who
thought himself black would have been incredibly lame. As the Russians
say, _Rybak rybaka izdaleko vidit_. "Fisherman recognizes (literally,
"sees") fisherman, [even] from a distance." I.e., members of the same
social congeries easily recognize each other / one another.

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.
 -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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