Heard on The Judges

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 25 18:32:07 UTC 2008

The speaker was a late-thirtyish white man from Saint Louis:

"I know that it was _John-nem_ [nEm] on the boat."

All of the people involved in the suit were white Saint Louisans who
were all habitués of the nightclub owned by Nelly, the rapper from
Saint Louis. However, their speech betrayed no black influence, as
[nEm] instead of [nIm] is meant to indicate.

The only other Northern white speaker that I've heard use this
locution was Bob, a Jewish New Yorker with an Arnold Stang (for
younger folk: he was a character-actor from radio days who would make
Woody Allen sound like Prince Charles) accent whom I met at the 1971
LSA Summer Institute, who spoke of "Mama-nem." I was more surprised to
discover that the Stang accent was real than I was by the use of

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list