Alison Murie sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Thu Dec 14 18:10:15 UTC 2006

 Beverly Flanigan  writes:
>And they were all reduced in England before colonization, as far as I
>know.  We have Wooster and Glouster in Ohio too, founded, I believe, by
>early settlers from Old and New England for whom these were already reduced
>in speech, and respelling followed pronunciation.  As I understand it, our
>concern now is with recent, seemingly unexplainable, r-lessness in normally
>r-ful speakers.
Beverly, of course, gets my point. If non-rhotic speakers were involved
there'd be no question.  I did think of another example, though it's
perhaps somewhat old-fashioned.  The word "ornery" (for which OED gives
"dialectal for ordinary")  was pronounced by some  r-ful speakers as
"onry."  Hardly ever hear it in any context any more.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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