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Old 08-22-2010, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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It seems to me that there is a spreading tendency in American English to put the accent stress on the final syllable of words like "gover'MENT", which seems a Southern type of inflection to me. I notice similar types of accent stress these days in the speech of many Midwesterners, Pennsylvanians, and other non-Southerners (Listening to programs on NPR like Car Talk and You Bet Your Garden provides a great opportunity to hear a variety of regional accents from all over the country). I also detect more drawl among non-Southerners than I think used to be the case. Now here's the rub, however: I've been noticing this more than ever since we moved back from England, so I'm not entirely sure that some of this isn't my own perceptual sensitivity after being out of the country for a few years. However, I had started to notice it even before we moved to the UK so I think there's something actually going on here. I believe that American speech is becoming even less clipped than it was (which is not very much so in most parts of the country), such that - like Southerners - many Americans outside the South are increasingly drawing out the vowel sounds to the point that they often become two syllables where standard dictionary pronunciation would indicate only a single syllable. OTOH, I'm not sure that other typical Southernisms are spreading, such as the homophonous pronunciation of "pen" and "pin" or "feel" and "fill". I also don't think that old fashioned Southern grammatical patterns are spreading, apart from the "y'all" contraction possibly. Distinct Southern non-standard grammatical constructions seem to me to have long been dying out and/or confined chiefly to relatively less educated persons.
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Kentucky
307 posts, read 802,440 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjef View Post
It seems to me that there is a spreading tendency in American English to put the accent stress on the final syllable of words like "gover'MENT", which seems a Southern type of inflection to me.
Seems kind of the opposite to me, as far as what type of inflection that is. Most folks I know (southern speakers) stress the earlier syllable, as in "IN-surance". Government would be "GOVerment" (or in all actuality, probably "GOV'ment" . I've also heard POlice, and others.
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
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I agree that PO-lice is Southern. The more I think about it, however, the more I think that the stress pattern exemplified by Gover'MENT sounds African American, which in turn is essentially a variety of Southern speech pattern. It's actually more like Gover'MINT, with the substitution of a short i sound (as in "pin") for the short e (as in "bed"). I think maybe it's also that aspect that gives me the impression it's Southern. BTW, TexasReb knows this but others may not -- I've spent the greater part of my life in Texas and have also lived in Louisiana and Virginia, among other places, so I'm pretty familiar with the sound of various sorts of Southern speech on an habitual basis. I think I knows it when I hears it.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:16 PM
eek
 
Location: Queens, NY
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PO-lice and JU-ly are DEFINITELY southern, IMO.

i won't say that its african american because black ppl here aren't saying POlice and JUly but from my time in the south there were a lot of black ppl that pronounced both of those words like that...although i think i've heard a white person say JUly more than once.

off the top:
GI tar (guitar)
POlice
JUly
hunnit (hundred)
INsurance
GOVment
IGnant
fin/fin to/finna
using won't instead of wasn't
PERmit instead of permit
uh instead of i...as in sustah instead of sister
cain't

etc. are all southern.
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:47 AM
 
Location: BMORE!
10,106 posts, read 9,956,241 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eek View Post
PO-lice and JU-ly are DEFINITELY southern, IMO.

i won't say that its african american because black ppl here aren't saying POlice and JUly but from my time in the south there were a lot of black ppl that pronounced both of those words like that...although i think i've heard a white person say JUly more than once.

off the top:
GI tar (guitar)
POlice
JUly
hunnit (hundred)
INsurance
GOVment
IGnant
fin/fin to/finna
using won't instead of wasn't
PERmit instead of permit
uh instead of i...as in sustah instead of sister
cain't

etc. are all southern.
I agree will them all except "wont" is more like "will not"

to add to the list:

Mama=mother
fittin to= about to
Wowta= water
kin or kinfolk= family
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Old 08-23-2010, 04:31 AM
 
3,635 posts, read 10,742,367 times
Reputation: 1922
Quote:
Originally Posted by eek View Post
PO-lice and JU-ly are DEFINITELY southern, IMO.

i won't say that its african american because black ppl here aren't saying POlice and JUly but from my time in the south there were a lot of black ppl that pronounced both of those words like that...although i think i've heard a white person say JUly more than once.

off the top:
GI tar (guitar)
POlice
JUly
hunnit (hundred)
INsurance
GOVment
IGnant
fin/fin to/finna
using won't instead of wasn't
PERmit instead of permit
uh instead of i...as in sustah instead of sister
cain't

etc. are all southern.
In Memphis, "POlice" is usually only said by black folks

"IGnant" is also mostly heard by black people, same with "hunnit," same with "finna" Most white people say "fixin to"

That's not to say that no white people pronounce those words like that, but it's not really that common.
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Old 08-23-2010, 06:02 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
4,726 posts, read 11,976,309 times
Reputation: 2650
Most of the examples given so far of Southern speech seem to me to be caricatures and not really how most Southerners speak. I admit to associating with a generally pretty socially rarified and educated group of mid-baby boom generation peers during my years in Texas. Pronunciations like "cain't", for example, weren't used. What you had primarily was a twangy accent in East Texas and the Texas Hill Country, and a flatter one up in the DFW Metroplex or much more so out in West Texas. Depending on where you are there tends to be either a flattening out of vowel sounds and vowel-consonant blends ("oil" becomes "all" for instance) or alternatively a tendency to "twang" these so that for instance "our" becomes "ire". There's also the tendency to substitute the short i for both the short and long e, but also occasionally to interchange a long ee sound for the short i; the first principle is a flattening one, the second is associated with the twanging accent.

What I was attempting to get at earlier was the idea that possibly the migration of African Americans from the South and the assimilation of some Southern Black speech patterns into the general American population may account for the mild Southernizing of American speech generally (this doesn't apply where alternative regional accents are the strongest, such as the Long Island-North Jersey accent; Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic accents conversely seem especially susceptible to Southernizing influences). That's only a theory, of course, and might not account for most of the phenomenon even if there's some validity to it. It is also possible that as non-English European immigrant influences in Midwestern American English gradually dissipate, the speech of many Americans in these states is becoming more Southernized as a general trend in the development of American English. However, I'm emphasizing accent patterns here rather than Southern idiom like "y'all" or "fixin' to".
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Old 08-23-2010, 08:23 AM
eek
 
Location: Queens, NY
3,574 posts, read 7,730,128 times
Reputation: 1478
well i think more americans are saying "fer" instead of for which IMO is southern...
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Old 08-23-2010, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Greenville, Delaware
4,726 posts, read 11,976,309 times
Reputation: 2650
Thanks, eek -- that is actually touching on something I thought about earlier this morning while listening to the radio in the car. Although "fer" substitutes a different vowel for the one in standard English "for", you can detect the trend of emphasizing the -er ending of words like "weather" in a way that seems to be a form of Southern American English. This gets into a peculiar situation, however, because some forms of Southern English are rhotic (the r is strongly pronounced in all cases and sometimes even inserted where it isn't indicated by spelling) and some forms are non-rhotic (R is only pronounced when it is followed by a vowel). Appalachian Southern is rhotic, for example, while the Southern American English (SAE) of the Deep South is largely arhotic/non-rhotic, so you would get a pronunciation of "weather" that sounds more like "weathah" or weathuh". By contrast, the Appalachian sound that seems to me to have crept into much general American speech would pronounce the word to sound more like "wea-thUR" with the final -er heavily emphasised. Interestingly Bob Dylan has tended always to emphasise those final -er sounds in his singing, even more so on his early records I think, possibly in imitation of Appalachian and other Southern folk and blues artists - I'm guessing that was an affectation but I think the emphasis of the final -er has become an authentic feature of an increasing number of speakers of American English over my lifetime.

All this is conjecture on my part and as I said earlier, I'm unsure how much relates to my own perceptual sensitivity to speech and may likewise be misattributions on my part.
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Old 08-23-2010, 10:39 AM
 
Location: The City
22,378 posts, read 38,895,654 times
Reputation: 7976
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRedd View Post
I agree will them all except "wont" is more like "will not"

to add to the list:

Mama=mother
fittin to= about to
Wowta= water
kin or kinfolk= family

and what is with all the fixin. I fixin dinner etc.

Was it broke?
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