Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Dec 31 20:32:23 UTC 2006

At 2:25 PM -0500 12/31/06, David Bowie wrote:
>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
>    cumberlandharbour.calm
>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!
dot-calm is cute--never seen it.  But "harbour" is quite common in
non-British contexts of precisely this type--it's intended to
correlate with the price at which property can be offered.  The upper
crust factor, don't you know.  I noticed a trendy new "Washington
Harbour" development with various expensive restaurants and condos
and offices and such in D.C. a few days ago, and I'm sure I've seen
at least one or two similar enterprises called "Harbour Place"
somewhere or other (stateside).


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