Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 12:31:41 -0500


Subject: Merzouri

I asked:

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

always outsiders,

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


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]

Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200

320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :