David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Sun Dec 31 19:25:03 UTC 2006

Driving back to Central Florida from visiting family in Maryland for
Xmas, i saw a couple billboards on I-95 in Georgia advertising a
residential community in, as i discovered from looking at the website,
St. Mary's, Georgia (which is in extreme southeastern Georgia). The most
noticeable text on the billboards read


with "calm" written in a different, more flowing script that the rest of
the sign.

Well, what caught my mind about this, aside from the gratuitous "u" in
the word "harbour",[1] was that it looked like a web address, but i
wouldn't expect there's be a .calm top-level domain.

About a half-second later, i realized that it was a play on
However, i don't have the cot-caught merger,[2] so it was initially
opaque to me.

Anyway--while recognizing that there is a large military population in
that area, which presumably means there are a number of people with the
cot-caught merger for whom this would be a transparent play on words, i
wouldn't have expected that area to have this merger. Anyone know if
this advertisement reflects some sort of cot-caught merger incursion
into the South, or if it's just some LA (or wherever) ad agency being
clueless about what would work for a particular location?

[1] <wave> to the Brits amongst us!

[2] And i natively pronounce the "l" in the word "calm", but that's
apparently just 'cause i'm some sort of linguistic freak.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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