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View Poll Results: How do you pronounce "bag"?
The same way as "beg", or virtually the same 17 5.90%
With the same vowel as "bad" or "radical" 239 82.99%
Neither way 32 11.11%
Voters: 288. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-10-2010, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,561,033 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachael84 View Post
Neither...it's hard to explain. I say it like "b-ai-g" if that makes sense.
Are you originally from Minnesota, or anywhere in the Upper Midwest?
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:44 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
2,257 posts, read 6,968,192 times
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I'm a linguist and a dialectologist for a living, so I both love and hate these kinds of threads. They're a lot of fun, but a lot of people also provide misinformation, often with the aim of expressing displeasure at accents they don't like. It's amazing the kind of vitriol some people feel towards the tongue shape that certain people make when articulating a vowel!

Anyway, I won't bother to address those peoples' claims. Most of us understand that peoples' accents have no empirical correlation to how intelligent they are or what kind of personality they have. Is it true that more highly educated people tend to speak a more 'standardized' dialect of American English on the whole? Overall, yes, but only because there is social stigma towards regional dialects in this country. The Midland and Western dialects from which "General American" is derived are less stigmatized purely by accident -- we could have just as easily decided on, say, Southern speech as the national standard, but that didn't happen for a number of historical reasons.

To the question at hand -- people might be interested in the results from the Harvard Dialect Survey, which mapped responses for this very question.

As others have pointed out, the main distinction isn't between the vowel in "bad" and "beg" (I should also note that some speakers in the Mid-Atlantic, from NYC to Baltimore, have a different vowel in "bad" and "rad(ical)," and we're actually concerned with the latter). The primary distinction is between speakers who use the vowel in "rad" with "bag" and speakers who rhyme it with "Hague."

As you can see from the map in the above link, most of the speakers who rhyme "bag" with "Hague" are concentrated in northern MI, WI, MN, and scattered across the Northwest, especially Washington. This pronunciation is also very common in most of Canada.

The pronunciation of "egg" and "leg" to rhyme with "Hague" is a somewhat different phenomenon. The geographic patterns are less clear, although overall it does seem to be common in the areas mentioned above as well as much of the South. But I think you encounter a lot of individual variation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j33 View Post
That isn't entirely correct. The 'r' phenomenon you've noticed is called a 'linking r' and is generally only used before vowels, so while "linder" may be correct "leeser" probably wouldn't be. I've thought a bit about this particular speech phenomenon the first time someone made fun of me for saying "I sawr a show the other night" (which is something I'd say) and did a bit of research on the matter.
Actually, there's also an "intrusive r." This is distinguished from the "linking r" in that it usually occurs in dialect areas that are undergoing a transition from a non-rhotic (r-less) dialect to a rhotic (r-ful) dialect. This is the case for Boston / eastern New England, where you will regularly hear "Leeser" for Lisa, "soder" for soda, and (made famous by Kennedy) "Cuber" for Cuba, among others. This is a case of hypercorrection. Most Brits and Australians wouldn't insert these "intrusive r's" unless they served a linking function.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:53 PM
 
13 posts, read 42,034 times
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Wow, Verseau--THANK YOU!! I would love to have studied linguistics. I find languages fascinating. In fact, I pick up accents and languages far too quickly. If I speak with someone for a few minutes, I usually ask them if they are from ---- (take your pick), and then I end up speaking like they do even if I don't want to. Apparently my accents are quite good. I can say "I don't speak Russian" (in Russian) so well that most Russians think I can speak their language (until they realize that "I don't speak Russian" is the only think I can say). I used to work at Disneyland (decades ago) and could say a few things in many languages.

Anyway, I love your map and would love to see any links to actual online surveys which people can take. I took one a while ago which was supposed to tell the participate where he or she lived. I'd love to find the link to it again. Thank you!
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
8,900 posts, read 13,230,919 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwriter View Post
Are you originally from Minnesota, or anywhere in the Upper Midwest?

No, NYC. Most people here say it that way too. I guess they do also in the upper midwest?
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:58 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,561,033 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachael84 View Post
No, NYC. Most people here say it that way too. I guess they do also in the upper midwest?
Yes. People from MN, WI, and ND pronounce "bag" as "baig." I had no idea New Yorkers did as well.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:09 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
2,257 posts, read 6,968,192 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vgs1895 View Post
Wow, Verseau--THANK YOU!! I would love to have studied linguistics. I find languages fascinating. In fact, I pick up accents and languages far too quickly. If I speak with someone for a few minutes, I usually ask them if they are from ---- (take your pick), and then I end up speaking like they do even if I don't want to. Apparently my accents are quite good. I can say "I don't speak Russian" (in Russian) so well that most Russians think I can speak their language (until they realize that "I don't speak Russian" is the only think I can say). I used to work at Disneyland (decades ago) and could say a few things in many languages.

Anyway, I love your map and would love to see any links to actual online surveys which people can take. I took one a while ago which was supposed to tell the participate where he or she lived. I'd love to find the link to it again. Thank you!
Thank you Glad you liked the map. There is another survey being conducted by the same person who did the US one, but for Global English. You can respond to the survey here (http://www.ling.cam.ac.uk/survey/ - broken link).

As for the New Yorkers -- many Mid-Atlantic speakers have something called a "split short-a system," in which bad doesn't have the same vowel as bat, half doesn't have the same vowel as have, and so on. It's a complicated phenomenon so it's a bit much to explain, but the key thing is that for New Yorkers, bag behaves like the first words in those pairs - bad, half, etc. The vowel in these words might be approximated by something like "ay-ih," although it's easiest to hear it with your own ears!

Back, on the other hand, has the vowel in bat and have, which is closer to how *most* other Americans pronounce bag.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
8,900 posts, read 13,230,919 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
Thank you Glad you liked the map. There is another survey being conducted by the same person who did the US one, but for Global English. You can respond to the survey here (http://www.ling.cam.ac.uk/survey/ - broken link).

As for the New Yorkers -- many Mid-Atlantic speakers have something called a "split short-a system," in which bad doesn't have the same vowel as bat, half doesn't have the same vowel as have, and so on. It's a complicated phenomenon so it's a bit much to explain, but the key thing is that for New Yorkers, bag behaves like the first words in those pairs - bad, half, etc. The vowel in these words might be approximated by something like "ay-ih," although it's easiest to hear it with your own ears!

Back, on the other hand, has the vowel in bat and have, which is closer to how *most* other Americans pronounce bag.
You explained it pretty well. My accent is just like how you said.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:05 PM
 
162 posts, read 353,268 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwriter View Post
Yes. People from MN, WI, and ND pronounce "bag" as "baig." I had no idea New Yorkers did as well.
I've never heard a New Yorker pronounce it that way, although I must say it's definitely indicative of an upper Midwestern accent. I heard it a lot living in WI and have a friend, from MN, with a very thick accent.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
5,990 posts, read 11,561,033 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kap121483 View Post
I've never heard a New Yorker pronounce it that way, although I must say it's definitely indicative of an upper Midwestern accent. I heard it a lot living in WI and have a friend, from MN, with a very thick accent.
If you look at this poll, the vast majority (almost all) of people who voted for "beg" or "neither" are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, New York, or New Jersey. People who voted for option "2" are from everywhere else.

I live in Minnesota, and people there not only say "beg," but don't even realize that's not the standard way to say it! When I explained how people in Michigan (and elsewhere) said "bag," they were shocked. Shocked!

Even though I grew up saying "bag," I'm staring to succumb to the "beg" because I live in MN and it's all I hear anymore (along with taig, flaig, and draigon). Plus, not having an obvious out-of-town accent has it's strong points.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:31 AM
 
13 posts, read 42,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwriter View Post
If you look at this poll, the vast majority (almost all) of people who voted for "beg" or "neither" are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, New York, or New Jersey. People who voted for option "2" are from everywhere else.

I live in Minnesota, and people there not only say "beg," but don't even realize that's not the standard way to say it! When I explained how people in Michigan (and elsewhere) said "bag," they were shocked. Shocked!
I agree--and when teachers here were suprised that it wasn't pronounced with the long A sound, that really made me laugh.

Quote:
Even though I grew up saying "bag," I'm staring to succumb to the "beg" because I live in MN and it's all I hear anymore (along with taig, flaig, and draigon). Plus, not having an obvious out-of-town accent has it's strong points.
Living here, I find myself using the same sounds and expressions. It's just easier.
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