Minstrel's Dialect

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 11 19:12:03 UTC 2003

At 1:05 PM -0500 11/11/03, Mark A Mandel wrote:
>On Tue, 11 Nov 2003, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>#Interesting that this Southern town (in Kentucky?) would use a long 'e' in
>#"de," so close to presumably NS schwa-using people when Foster wrote the
>#song and Duane saw the show--but the cultural divide would have been great
>#by the '50s, of course.
>I would guess it was a spelling pronunciation based on the written
>lyric, used by people not accustomed to hearing, or at least to writing,
>the stop pronunciation of "the", much like our questioner.
>-- Mark A. Mandel
>    Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania

That's my guess too--much like the pronunciation of "Ye olde sweete
shoppe" with the determiner pronounced as if it were the second
person pronoun, although in that case it's because of unfamiliarity
with the archaic spelling of the dental fricative, or (I assume) the
r-ful pronunciation of "yeller" (for the color), "feller", etc.,
which (as I understand, although I could be wrong) were originally
designed to represent a schwa here for r-less dialects but now are
widely pronounced like the agentive ending (= 'one who yells', etc.)


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