Nevada and Navajo

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 22 00:10:28 UTC 2013

On May 21, 2013, at 7:57 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> On May 21, 2013, at 4:49 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>> ---------------------- 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: Nevada and Navajo
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On May 21, 2013, at 7:39 PM, David A. Daniel wrote:
>>> I grew up in Southern California saying, and hearing all about me, both
>>> Nevada and Navajo with cat-sounding first a's. In 1979, in the movie Hair, I
>>> heard Berger (ostensibly from New York) say Nevada with a father-sounding
>>> first a, and thought, hmph, that's different. Now I find myself using the
>>> father-a too for Nevada, don't remember when that started but it was
>>> sometime post-Berger. But I still use cat-a for Navajo as, I would bet, do
>>> most southwesterners.
>>> DAD
>> Color[ae]do is another one.  And, for easterners and especially NYC types, there's also ['ar@"gan] (with secondary stress on the final syllable) instead of the native ['Or at g@n].  In each case, including that of Nev[ae]da with the "dad" vowel vs. the east coast version with the "father"-vowel, I was led to believe that our effete pronunciation was a kind of (what we'd now call) hyper-foreignism, and that only the more domesticated pronunciations with {ae] as in "dad" and with an unstressed schwa for the last syllable of "Oregon", were authentic.  I assume "Navajo" would have been similar, although I don't recall being corrected for my [a]-as-in-father vowel on that one in the same way (saying "Navajo rug" in my mind, I'm sure I always used the "father"-vowel).
>> LH
> I'm pretty sure that Al Pacino does the stressed "Oregon" nicely in his monologue at the end of "Scent of a Woman."
I'm not surprised.  Note too that the "paragon" stress pattern can work with either the [O] or [a] vowel, so that even if you're not a real New Yorker (i.e. from Metro NYC) and thus pronounce "Oregon" and "orange" with the vowel of "father" you can still rile a real Oregonian by secondary-stressing that final vowel, essentially as in "Is your aura gone?" instead of "I'd like an aura gun".


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