July 13, 2005

What Kind Of English Do You Speak?

Jim at Unfreezing points to a series of articles on the many variations of American English that describes in detail some of the differences I've noticed over the years in moving from place to place. I would say I mostly talk like a Midwestern Californian, but I might could be fixin' to talk some Southern at you too.

One thing they don't mention, though I know I picked up living in California, because everyone else I know from California says it, is my propensity to pronounce the word both as if it was spelled bolth. It drives my husband a wee bit crazy, but then it drives me crazy that he can't hear the difference between pin and pen. What's really sad is that our son says bolth and can't hear the difference between pin and pen -- poor mixed up child.


I was utterly clueless. I think I have lived in too many regions and my speech patterns have been completely muddled.

Posted by: Sarah G. at July 13, 2005 12:05 PM

LOL!!! Now pity the poor person who must come to the USA and learn English. How do you pronouce ROOF?

My mil has a weird way of saying KETTLE. She sort of shortens the T so it is KEH soft t EL.

Me, I'm perfect. Just don't ask my kids however. ;-)

Posted by: Rachel Ann at July 13, 2005 12:08 PM

My wife says bolth. She's always complains that her friends from Salinas say she has a southern accent and people here in SC say she has a California accent. (At least it's not like valley.)

My accent is from all over. My dad was in the Air Force and in Law school when I was learning to talk so I picked up lots of different pieces, but it's predominantly southern.

Posted by: George at July 13, 2005 03:00 PM

George, I actually know your wife says bolth. She and Alec were two of the first Californians with whom I ever discussed that.

Posted by: Jordana at July 13, 2005 03:05 PM

My husband was raised in Baltimore and I get a kick out hearing him say "radiator". The first "a" is like the "a" in apple. Here, down South at MY house, we say radiator with the first "a" long like in Raid.

Also, he calls a cove (you know where there's not a through street), a court. Some folks say culdesac, right?

All in fun!

Posted by: melissa at July 13, 2005 05:08 PM

1. so Melissa, how does your husband pronounce "ambulance?"

2. I've never run into anyone pronouncing "both" as "bolth," but I have found that a lot of midwesterners pronounce the names Jenny and Ginny exactly the same way.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at July 15, 2005 08:37 AM

Some one is going to have to make a recording about the supposed difference between pin and pen. Just don’t here it.

Posted by: jim at July 15, 2005 11:54 AM

Steevil, I think it is Southerners that think Jenny and Ginny are the same. It's that pen and pin difference that Jim and my husband can't hear. If only I could figure out how to harness their failure to hear that difference into power that I need to complete my plan for world domination. Bwahahaha!

Posted by: Jordana at July 15, 2005 01:24 PM

You mean there is a difference between Jenny and Ginny? Lots of words sound alike to me.

Posted by: jim at July 15, 2005 03:06 PM

Back in the '70s I was teaching Kindergarten in Blytheville Arkansas. Phonics was fine till I hit the vowels....
"what rhymes with 'pail'?"
They didn't mean the handle of the pail, or how to get out of jail (another rhyme!) but one of those things that ring when it's time for church.

I got the principal to come in and teach vowels!

Posted by: Jan Yarnot at July 18, 2005 09:08 PM

Also, the neighbors were telling us about the crayons on their teeth, and it took a long time to realize they were talking about the crowns they had.

We'd just spent 4 years in England and thought we knew it all!

About 10 years ago, in San Francisco's Chinatown, I found myself translating between the Brit-English (East Anglian, to be exact) and the Chinese English, so my friend could actually finish a transaction.

Posted by: Jan Yarnot at July 18, 2005 09:13 PM