Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 24 16:19:57 UTC 2012

Most r-ful American speakers miss the onomatopoeia of Christopher
Robin's young donkey friend Eeyore.  In r-less British English <or> or
<ore> represents a low or mid back rounded vowel, open o or turned
script a.

Watching English Premier League soccer this morning, Chelsea vs.
Tottenham, I noticed a Tottenham forward with the name "Adebayor."
African players are not uncommon in the EPL, and Adebayo is a common
Yoruba name from Nigeria.  The final <r> is the puzzle.  Some southern
Nigerian languages and some Ghanaian languages use <or>
orthographically for a mid back tongue-root retracted rounded vowel,
usually transcribed with an open o.  Yoruba does not do this but
rather uses a subscript dot under <e> and <o> for the tongue-root
retracted sounds, similar to English sounds in "bet" and "for."  So
where did the <r> come from in Adebayor?  Most typewriters and
computer keyboards are not equipped for subscript dots or bars, and so
the letters are often seen without them, as in this posting.  I did
some checking on Adebayor, who is one of Tottenham's stars, and found
that he's from Togo but that his parents moved there from Nigeria.
I'm guessing that sometime in that non-Yoruba speaking region, also a
region where <or> is used for the sound, the spelling acculturated and
his parents went along with it.

For me the oddity was that the English announcer was pronouncing the
final <r> and stressing the final syllable.

Is Eeyore doomed to lose its onomatopoeia even in England?


The American Dialect Society -

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