Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 00:15:31 -0400



With regard to the first vowel in Syracuse (relevant prior postings excerpted

below, hopefully with attributions intact), I've been hearing [sehrakyus] a

lot on sports reports on New York radio the past few years (WCBS-AM, WFAN),

and wondering where it came from. Of course, at least some of the WFAN update

guys have broadcasting degrees from Syracuse U...

[Note that at least some of the confusion below is because there are two

variables in the pronunciations of Syracuse (eh) and (S/Z), and they seem to

have different geographical and sociolinguistic distributions.]

Alice Faber



Dale Coyne:

Lynn notes that Syracuse is pronounced with the vowel of air locally, but

I grew up just outside the city and think that's a minority pronunciation,

perhaps used mostly by older speakers. It alwas has /s/ up there.

lynne murphy:

ahem, maybe it's what's used by younger speakers! i'm but a child

(ok, 30 but childish), but this is how people i know identify non-

locals. if they say "sirakyuz" instead of "sarakyus" you're allowed

to make fun of them. another possibility, though is that the people

in syracuse have changed, but the rural counties around it haven't

caught up with the city-slickers. i haven't made clear all the

possibilities here for that first vowel. i use the vowel in "air"

but i have also heard the [i] as in "seersucker" and the [I] in "sir"-

-which may actually be a schwa in syracuse. the last is the least

common to my mind, but the second is the one that grates on me.

David Bergdahl:

Syracuse. Many folks I knew growing up (in Tennessee) and other

Southerners used the voiced fricate here. Network sportscasters

seem all to use the s.

When I was an undergrad at Syr Univ there was a real split between the upstaters

who pronounced it [ser[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]kus] and we downstaters who said [sir[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]kuz] with [AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] =

schwa. I never thought of the -s- as distinctive: I focused on the vowel before