[LMB] Pronunciations

Sylvus Tarn sylvus at rejiquar.com
Mon May 22 14:06:10 BST 2006

On Sun, 2006-05-21 at 14:16 -0700, Mark A. Mandel wrote:
> Second. There are well-known dialectal* variations in pronouncing
> front
> vowels before the "r" sound in English. One way of referring to these
> differences is "merry-marry-Mary". In my native dialect these three
> words
> are all pronounced differently, but in many others, two or all three
> sound
> identical. Someone who pronounces "marry" and "Mary" the same is
> likely to
> also use that same vowel+/r/ combination in "barrel" and "air", which
> means that that person could use "AIR-al" for a pronunciation that
> they
> rhyme with "barrel". I don't know if Lois speaks such a dialect*, but
> it
> seems quite possible.

It seems possible to me too---the marry/Mary (but not merry)
all-the-same is standard for the lower parts of Michigan (some of which
abut Ohio).   

> -- Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoepist, and
>    Philological Busybody

And what this thread demonstrates is the need for learning the IPA.
Yes, it's ugly, cobbled together out of several existing alphabets, and
by its very nature, difficult for many to imagine/articulate some of the
sounds.  And, I gather from discussions (way over my head) that even so
pronounciation is more analogous(?) than digital: even IPA symbols only
imperfectly capture what may be going on in any particular
pronounciation.  Still, I think it ought to be required, given the
increasing globalization of our society;  not to mention it being so
handy for fantasy/sf pronounciation guides!

I note that wikipedia now seems to have a nice entry on it, so maybe
I'll take another crack at learning it...
> * (If anyone is about to take offense at the word "dialect"... don't.
> Just... don't.  

Surely no-one on this list would do so?

sylvus tarn

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