hard words on TV! Part deux

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 14 02:21:34 UTC 2007

Among black Americans, "Jesus' is not much used in casual speech. The
use of "Jesus!" as an exclamation by a black speaker is a clear
indication that the said speaker interacts with white people on a
regular basis. [N.B. If you find yourself thinking, "That's an odd
claim! I hear African-Americans using 'Jesus!' as an exclamation all
the time," that is precisely my point.] Back in the day, the usual
churchly pronunciation - my maternal grandather was a Methodist
minister - was
"Je[r]u[s]," wherein [r] represents a flap. As a member of The One
True Faith (did anyone else hear Stephen Colbert use the locution,
"The One True Faith," in reference to the Catholic Church, the other
night?), I haven't atttended a Protestant service since that
grandfather's funeral in 1956. So, I don't know whether "Jedus" is
still used in the black church. As for the final "s," the only
pronunciation that I've ever heard from any source is [s].


On 5/13/07, James Harbeck <jharbeck at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
> Subject:      Re: hard words on TV! Part deux
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Is "Jesus" spoken in flowing speech mainly ~Jeezus or ~Jeezis?  I would say
> >~Jeezis.  But when the word is said alone, usually ~Jeezus
> I think I normally make the unstressed vowel a high-mid vowel,
> phonemically a schwa but realized as higher than the average schwa.
> With [-Iz] it would sound more like the plural of "geez" or "cheese";
> the citation form for me would be with the schwa. And of course the
> voiced final fricative.
> James Harbeck.
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