Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 10:08:27 -0500
From: "Timothy C. Frazer" mftcf[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU
Subject: Re: you
On Tue, 16 Aug 1994, Donald M. Lance wrote:
It seems to me that in the past decade there has been a considerable increase
in the use of "bad grammar" and four-letter words in quotations in newspaper
articles. We who've been (mis)quoted by reporters are well aware of where
of the quotes come. The news people would argue that they're attempting to
be more accurate, but stereotyping seems to me to have a higher priority than
accuracy in these quotes.
Bob Greene had a column on this phenomemom (chicago trib; dunno if it was
syndicated) and cited it as another example of the decline of civility
and civilization. If anyone saved it I'd like to get a copy.
I'm a 'was' rather than 'wuz' speaker, so my reaction to this particular item
of eye dialect is different from that of 'wuz' speakers. I mean that I use
the low vowel in stressed 'was' but of course use a schwa when the word is
in an unstressed position. From my own reaction, I suspect that some
writers who use 'wuz' in eye dialect are indirectly commenting on their own
"correct" pronuncation, the one taught by Miss Fidditch.
My guess would be that this distinction is unusual. I think I hve the
same vowel in both positions, as do most of the people I know. Do I just
have a bad ear? Or is the tendency I describe a striclty
inlandnorth/north midland thing? I know my students panic when they
can't hear the difference between a schwa and anything slightly lower or
low-bck (represented by an upside down "a", respectively, and a carrot in
IPA). I have to skip over that cause I can't either.
messiness notwithstanding, the use of 'wuz' is one of the most useful eye
dialect items that a writer can use to suggest dialect but not "heavy"
Yes, and I think it's useful precisely cause it does not represent a real
ifference between standard and vernacular. That's a tough one to prove
absolutely, though. Any suggestions out there?