End of ADS-L Digest - 18 Nov 1997 to 19 Nov 1997 ************************************************ Subject: ADS-L Digest - 19 Nov 1997 to 20 Nov 1997 There are 13 messages totalling 585 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. "Merzouri" 2. More from the American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 3. 4. vernacular (7) 5. Rickford on Ebonics in Discovery (3) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 23:12:12 -0600 From: "Donald M. Lance" Subject: Re: "Merzouri" >Just what does 'er' spell? >>>>> Just what does 'er' spell? [...] The story ends with the Cracker telling another potential customer, threatening him with a well worn knife, "Pertaters end ternups, Mabin--but don't yer say aiggs, Mabin! Ef yer do, I'll sample yer gizzard!" The puzzle. Not too hard. This was South Carolina, where r- lessness and r-fulness overlapped, If the spelling is accurate, the fellow had the same vowel in the first and last syllables of 'potatoes' and the first syllable of 'turnips' as well as in 'you' and 'your'. So, what was it? Not what present-day literal-minded Americans assume, but a schwa-like sound that the British represent with 'er' and some 19th-century American writers also represented with 'er'. The words that provide the clinching evidence are the two instances of 'you', which I really doubt were pronounced as "spelled." <<<<<<< > Mark A. Mandel : >Are you proposing that this SC dialect had an r-less schwa in >"turnips"? Is that plausible? ...................... 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.