Heard on The Judges

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 26 04:25:50 UTC 2008

At 1:32 PM -0500 1/25/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>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

"Mommanem" etc. is a shibboleth of Pittsburghese.
I've never heard (or rather noticed) it in New
York, among Jewish speakers or others, but as I
recall Bryan Gick and other dialectologists from
Pittsburgh have confirmed it's real (along with
the "yinz" second person plural).


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

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