Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 17:10:58 -0400
From: "Beverly Flanigan (by way of Beverly Flanigan
Subject: thole story, etc.

This is an edited copy of a message I sent to David Sutcliffe, partly to
give him my first name and partly to add a bit more to the 'thole story'
and related matters. (And it didn't apparently reach him anyway.)

>Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 12:26:09 -0400
>To: david.sutcliffe[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]TRAD.UPF.ES
>From: Beverly Flanigan
>Subject: Re: St Louis Blues etc.
>Just a return comment on this note and your summary of the "thole"
responses. I guess my first name didn't show up on my 'tole < tow'
comment, and I didn't think of the fact that since you're not in the
"American circle" of ADS you wouldn't know me from Adam (or Eve)! I've
been working on Midland/South Midland dialect for a long time and have
become familiar with the "grandmawl" phenomenon from my southern Ohio
students. In that word there is also a more British-like low back vowel
than the rest of the country has: it's not the low central /a/ of most
AmEng but the low back V of your 'pot', midway between /a/ and open O
(backward C). McDavid was aware of it, but more recent dialectologists
know it less well. I've done ADS conference papers on this and will try to
publish a couple of articles on SE Ohio soon--when time permits!
>On the bolt/boat issue, I agree with you that 'boat' is more plausible in
your context. However, IF the word were 'bolt,' it might well be
pronounced with vocalized /l/: 'bo't'. Jesse Jackson spoke here last
night, and his 'help > he'p' pronunciation was very salient. (He speaks
Standard So/SoMid < Upland South Carolina, not Black English, except in
obvious switches.)
>On Labov's division: Yes, the Midland is alive and well in the U.S.!
Again, this is a major point I (and others) are trying to establish, contra
Carver, Houck, et al. It may be that the old North Midland is melding in
with Northern, and the South Midland is becoming simply Midland--but it is
clearly distinctive from North and South. Cincinnati, St. Louis (where I
lived for ten years), Atlanta, etc. are indeed islands in this area, mainly
because of their rapidly changing demographics.
Beverly Olson
University, Athens
(out of
Minnesota--very Northern)
>At 03:12 PM 4/25/98 +0200, you wrote:
>> On 25/4/98 Allan Metcalf wrote:
>>> Thinking of Walt Wolfram giving the Tamony lecture in Columbia,
>>> Missouri, today; and feeling sorry that I couldn't make it to that
>>annual celebration of
>>American English, got me thinking about Missouri and its language.
>>St Louis has the peculiarity of being a Northern speech island in a
>>sea of Midland. But has this always been so? Was it the case when Lewis
>>and Clark set off on their expedition? Has anybody studied St Louis
>>speech of the 19th century?
>>Allan Metcalf>
>>This reminded me of the research William Labov, Sherry Ash & associates
>>are doing on vowel shift chains. They are convinced that a great
>>Northern vowel shift is under way in the northern cities of Chicago,
>>Detroit, etc. and are also convinced there's a great Southern vowel
>>vowel shift in progress throughout the South. This leaves the cities in
>>the middle, Cincinatti and westwards, and here they find that each major
>>city is going its own sweet way (Labov, pers. communication 1995). I'm
>>not sure what they say about St Louis, but it would be enlightening to
>>talk to them about this. At all events the situation they describe seems
>>to bear out the three-way division: Northern, Midland, Southern, which
>>was recently questioned.
>>David Sutcliffe