[Ads-l] On the Waterfront: dialect clash

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 21 03:53:18 UTC 2017

Surprising as it may seem, I had never seen this famous movie until last
weekend, when I looked at it on YouTube. But, as does everyone else, I know

“I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody, instead of what
I am, which is nobody”

and I was waiting to hear it “in the flesh,” as it were.

And, when I did, I was shocked, shocked! For some reason, I’d always
assumed that the second sentence would be spoken as,

A) “I coulda BEEN somebody, instedda what I am, which is NObody.”

But I was taken off guard, because what I heard was,

B) “I coulda been SOMEbody, instedda what I am, which is NObody.”

The contrast between _SOMEbody_ and _NObody_ is almost Homeric in its
clarity. Yet, somehow, A just feels “right" to me.

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.
-Mark Twain

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

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