hard words on TV! Part deux

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun May 13 17:15:13 UTC 2007

Homer Simpson says "Jebuz."


James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA> wrote: ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society
Poster:       James Harbeck
Subject:      Re: hard words on TV! Part deux

OK, I just did a little survey of some recorded versions of "Jesus"
in songs, and the results are interesting and so far largely confirm
the idea that voicing on the final s is mainly a Canadian feature.

YouTube is a good place to listen to songs you don't have on CD, if
someone's made a video. I started with "Spirit in the Sky," by Norman
Greenbaum, who's American; to my hearing, he sings [s] on the final
s. A cover of the song by Gareth Gates, who I think is from the UK,
also seems to have [s], but the version I heard has other sounds and
singing overtop of it, so I can't be completely sure (it's a video
with the Kumars, who are a British comedy show). U2, who are from
Ireland, sound more like [s] in a live version of "Sunday Bloody

Then I headed to my CDs and pulled out some Christmas CDs. Chorus
Angelicus, from the US, gives a sound that seems mixed -- as though
some are singing [z] and some [s]. I have a recording of a Christmas
pageant from a Toronto church (with narrators and professional
singers) has the singers (who I believe are all Canadians, possibly
all from the Toronto area) very distinctly singing [z], and one of
the two narrators (from Toronto) very distinctly saying [z]; the
other narrator, who is also Canadian but did spend some time in
England, sounds almost like [zs]. Chorona, a small group of
professional singers from the Toronto area, have [z] very clearly
from a couple of different soloists in songs such as "I Wonder as I
Wander" and "The Huron Carol." The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, which
is about 150 voices and also has people from a wide variety of
backgrounds, gives a mixed sound; since I sing in it, I can say with
certainty that there are some who sing (and say) [z], but to my ear
there are also some who say [s] -- I'll have to see if I can tell
which ones do what, though I might not have a chance to hear anyone
sing "Jesus" again until December, as most of the music isn't in

Finally, a live recording of Leonard Cohen (who is from Montreal but
has also lived in the US) singing "Suzanne" has something that sounds
like [zs]. Oddly, I don't have the original studio recording.

I'll listen around some more and see if I can find more instances and
see if there's a correspondence with the speakers' (or singers')
places of origin.

James Harbeck.

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

Give spam the boot. Take control with tough spam protection
in the all-new Yahoo! Mail Beta.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list