Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 11:28:33 EST
From: RonButters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

I don't think that a merger of /ay/ and /oy/ is typical of 19th century
Midwesrtern. Probably we are just dealing with an off-rhyme here.

However the author pronounced DES MOINES and NINE, they would not have rhymed.
Today /oy/ and /ay/ are phonemically distinct in the Midwest, so it seems
likely (though not totally certain) that they did not merge completely in the
19th century and then split again in the 20th. I can't prove it, but my memory
of my great-grandmother Bishop's speech (she was born in 1860 in Northfield,
Minnesota, and lived most of her life in east central Iowa [Linn County]) is
that she had no merger of /oy/ and /ay/.