Ahra-lessnes in white-Southern speech

Paul A Johnston, Jr. paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Tue Jun 16 05:46:58 UTC 2009

I know a 73-year-old white guy from Richmond, VA who is consistently r-less and about as Tidewater as you can get.  I don't know how young a speaker from this part of VA who is r-less you can find, but this accent (the "Southern gentleman" one) used to have some prestige, even among Northerners.

Paul Johnston

----- Original Message -----
From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Date: Monday, June 15, 2009 11:17 am
Subject: Ahra-lessnes in white-Southern speech

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------
> ------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Ahra-lessnes in white-Southern speech
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------
> Are there any white-Southern speakers left who *don't* use [r] in all
> the places where Northerners do? I watched a Weather Channel show on
> the Great Tornado Season of '74. Many ordinary white folk from
> Kentucky and Alabama were interviewed WRT their memories of that
> season. Only one speaker, from around Dothan and Huntsville, Alabama,
> failed to use [r] and that was in only one word: *government*, which
> he pronounced as approximately "gum mint" [g^m mI at nt].
> They all used what black speakers usually characterize as the
> "hillbilly" dialect. The "Southern" dialect is the ahra-less one
> usually attempted nowadays only by Northern actors attempting to
> portray Southern-speakers.
> Is BE the only r-less AmE dialect left with a number of speakers large
> enough to bother to count?
> --
> -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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