Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 21:03:51 -0600 From: "Donald M. Lance" Subject: Re: Boyer or BOOyer Dale Coyle asks: >Just met a guy from the Ozarks (S. Mo.) and we were talking about some folks >named Boyer. He told me that in his neck of the woods there were lots of >Boyers, but they (and he) pronounced it BOOyer, with the vowel of BOOK. > >1) is this a widespread feature for this word, or limited to the Ozarks? > >2) Does it extend to other OY words? (Toy, oil, Moyers, point) > >3) Any theories on why it was raised? 1) I am acquainted with Pete Boyer of Potosi, Missouri, a storyteller and one of the few remaining speakers of Missouri French. He says his family always said booYEA in French or BOOyer in English. Potosi is in the eastern part of the Ozark Plateau -- lead-mining area, what attracted the French to that part in 1730-50. I suspect this pronunciation is limited to the Boyers of Missouri and their friends, wherever they settled. 2) I'm ashamed to say that I haven't learned much about Missouri French, but it is related to Canadian dialects, I understand, since that's where the earliest Mississippi Valley French settlers came from -- before New Orleans became a port of immigration, while Mobile was still the seat of French colonial government. There's a story, apparently true, of how the Missouri French pulled a good one on the Governor (Cadillac?) what had come up from Mobile to check out rumors of silver in the area of Ste Genevieve. They made fun of his foppishness (probably his language too) and bamboozled him. After he returned home he found out that he had been had and was quite angry. (I've no doubt have unintentionally added some embellishments to the story.) 3) In view of 2), this vowel wasn't raised. It was not lowered in Missouri dialects, and maybe not in certain Canadian French dialects. 2),3)* Questions about dialect are often set up anachronistically. We know that current Parisian French came from earlier forms (likewise contemporary English), but people often want to know why the language of Cajuns or others has diverged from contemporary standard forms. (Answer: their clocks and calendars run backwards.) Similar questions have been asked about English on this List of Dialectologists.