CLEMatiS, cleMAHtis, cleMAYtis

Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Sat Apr 6 18:55:05 UTC 2002


I grew up in the NC mountains, as did my mom who's an avid gardener.  She's
always said CLEMatis in reference to that flowering plant.  I imagine that
that's the same pronunciation she's heard in the local garden club.  In
addition, her BS was a double major in science and home economics.  I've
never asked her if she ran into clematis in the classroom or lab, but I'll
quiz her when she gets back from the beach.

Merriam-Webster Online features CLEMatis and cleMATis among four different

Retirees have it sweet.


On 4/6/02 12:55 PM, "ANNE V. GILBERT" <avgilbert at PRODIGY.NET> wrote:

> 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


Bob Haas
Department of English
High Point University

"Wherever you go, there you are."

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