Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 12:31:41 -0500
From: Mark Mandel Mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]DRAGONSYS.COM
Are you proposing that this SC dialect had an r-less schwa in
"turnips"? Is that plausible?
Donald M. Lance replied:
There would have been several dialects in the Columbia SC area at that time. Yes, I am
proposing (even claiming)
that evidence in the spelling indicates that the "Cracker" had r-less speech. He said 'you' and
'your' the same way
and the conventional eye-dialect spelling (at that time) of the vowel sound in these words, as well
as in 'pertaters'
and 'ternups', was -er-. No American would choose this spelling now, but over a century ago this
spelling seems to
have worked for the "litterati" who were writing these spoofs; it crops up in other stories in this
genre. My Uncle Ed,
who grew up in northern Florida and called himself a Cracker, had r-less speech, though he was
much brighter than
the hapless fellow in the story.
Uncle Ed said 'you' and 'your' alike -- just like the -er- vowel nuclei in the other words. Spellings
and verbal jibes in
these stories written in the mid-19th century indicated that the "educated" people, often but not
made fun of the dialects of bumpkins, which is part of the "humor" of this story.
I'm sorry, I didn't express my question -- or perhaps my doubt -- precisely enough. All the other
examples of "er"
from the text that you mention as evidence that it's intended to convey an r-less schwa are
UNSTRESSED. But the
first syllable of "turnip" (spelled as "ternup" in the text, IIRC) is stressed, unless we're talking
about far different
changes than I thought we were. And I have trouble imagining a vowel in that syllable that is any
kind of match for
an r-less schwa. Maybe a diphthong with a palatal glide at the end, such as is often transcribed
"oi" ("da corner of
Toity-toid an' Toid"), but not an r-less schwa.
Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]dragonsys.com
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com/