"The _hopper_"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 25 14:21:51 UTC 2012

This is as good an explanation as I've seen for this, but it does not
account for a small subset of intrusive r. The Boston-area locals whom
I've heard adding r's to words like "idea" and "law" don't just do it in
front of vowels, but pretty much anywhere. So I've heard a very
distinctive, "It's a great idear!" from a person who normally muffles
the r in "Oh, dear!". To the best of my knowledge, these were socially
cued, rather than purely phonological--i.e., you'd hear it from this
person at an academic discussion at Harvard, but not at a beach party on
the Cape.

Either way, it seems to have nothing to do with "hopper", per the other
part of your explanation.


On 6/25/2012 9:11 AM, Gordon, Matthew J. wrote:
> These are two unrelated phenomena. The 'hopper' discussion was prompted by the distinctive pronunciation of the vowel in the stressed syllable. In Boston (as in many areas) the traditional short-o vowel (of LOT) is merged with the traditional "open-o" vowel (of THOUGHT). The merged vowel is usually rounded in eastern New England, so that 'hopper' sounds like "hawper" (unlike across the West).
> Also in Boston, as in most r-less regions, you can hear "intrusive r" as in "the idear of it" or "lawr and order". This is simply the introduction of a non-etymological /r/ at the end of a word when the next word begins with a vowel. This pattern is motivated by the same rule governing when the final /r/ in words that have them historically is pronounced. Thus the /r/ in 'car' is dropped in, e.g., "car by the house," but pronounced in "car in the garage"; ditto for 'idea' except that this word didn't historically have an /r/.
> -Matt Gordon
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Victor Steinbok [aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2012 11:02 PM
> Subject: Re: "The _hopper_"
> If we're talking about Boston accents, how is this different from
> regular overcompensation in words like "idea[r]"?
>       VS-)

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