The magistrate said "Merry", the defendant said "Mary"

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 11 15:01:53 UTC 2010

The Dialect Survey -
by Bert Vaux University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee discusses Mary/marry/merry and other words with nice maps of dialect areas.  See number 15.

Results show that 57% say all three words the same.  The states that say them differently are on the NE coast from Mass to (would you believe) "Mary"land.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
see phonetic spelling

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject: Re: The magistrate said "Merry", the defendant said "Mary"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 1:39 AM -0400 6/11/10, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>On Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 8:02 PM, David Wake <dwake at> wrote:
>>> many speakers in the East Coast and in the South do not have the
>>> complete merger.
>>In the Southern BE of Marshall, TX, It's
>>Mary [merI], merry [mErI], marry [m&rI]
> Pretty much the same for my NYC dialect, except that
> (i) my final unstressed vowel is [i], and
> (ii) I've never been quite sure how to represent that first one;
> "Mary" is distinct from "merry" and "marry", which are pretty clearly
> as Wilson transcribes them, but she isn't really "May-ree" either (as
> in "maybe" with an r), given the r-coloring of the /e/ vowel.
> LH
>>But, in Saint BE, it's
>>Mary, merry [mEri], marry [m&ri]
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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