CLEMatiS, cleMAHtis, cleMAYtis

Sat Apr 6 17:55:49 UTC 2002

To all:

I've been wondering about this for some time.  I live in Seattle, in a neighborhood where lots of people garden.  I also work in a retail store to support my Great Science Fiction Mastpiece, so I get to hear a lot of "local" speech, or varieties thereof.  There is a certain very pretty vine that blooms about this time of year, which  has dark leaves and beautiful white flowers.  One day about two weeks ago, when I was walking home, I stopped by and asked the lady who had planted it what it was. She said  "It's a CLEMatis."(I had no idea what the plant was).  Just yesterday, a nice lady came and bought two of the same plant, which she called a cleMAYtis, and which I've heard a lot of people refer to as a cleMAHtis.  The second lady was a lot younger than the first.  It just so happens, I grew up with CLEMatis(my mother planted CLEMatis in her garden).  But it seems most of the "younger generation" around here says cleMAHtis.  My mother, being a hardcore "prescriptivist" would have been shocked, shocked.  However, what I'm wondering is, has there been some sort of shift in pronunciation, as with a lot of words over the years?  Is this perhaps some sort of regional variation?  It's certainly interesting.
Anne G

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