Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Quinn C
I had to take a course at my company that included listening to a
recorded speaker, presumably a professional. After a few repetitions,
the talk of "eelectronic records" etc. got on my nerves.
To my surprise, my preferred pronunciation, with an /E/ at the
beginning, isn't even an option in most US dictionaries. I have no
issue with /I/, which I hear regularly. /i:/ is listed by some
dictionaries but not others.
In this specific case, it might be a misinterpretation of her accent by
me, as I also heard her say "eessential". And it may only be her,
somewhat artificial, professional reading voice. Some other words were
strangely over-articulated at the end.
I think of that (possibly quite wrongly) as a Black American way of>
speaking, as with ['pəʊ̯lɪjs] (POE-lease) for "police".
Most African American ("Black American": how quaint!
than those that are so-called.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
) phonetic patternsare widely shared by other ethnic communities
throughout the South. Onthe radio or telephone, a Northerner might
wrongly assume a speaker is black.
Both the movie (Rod Steiger) and the TV (Carroll O'Connor) versions
of*In the Heat of the Night* provide credible examples of Poor
Whitedialect contrasted with that of a northern black man (Sidney
I don't remember whether there are black characters in *Cool Hand
Luke*,but you might recall Strother Martin's iconic line "What we have
here isfailure to communicate." Hmm, interesting discussion of the line
Quite likely indistinguishable from black speech of the area. (The
northerninner cities began to be settled by black people escaping the
Mississippifloods in the 1920s, which helps explain the uniformite of
African AmericanVernacular English throughout the urban North. Regional
black accents are nowdeveloping in the cities that had had distinctive
speechways when they arrived.)
The two regions had different patterns of segregation through the first
twothirds of the 20th century: in the South, be as close as you want,
but don'trise in social station (with the 400 year history of domestic
slavery); inthe North, rise as high as you want but don't associate
with us (which ledto thriving commercial districts and successful
businesses in the blackneighborhoods, which began to fail when
integration was promoted and AfricanAmericans chose to shop in the
bigger stores whose clientele had previouslyonly been white).
I don't remember where I first read about that, but it was obviously
inprogress when I came to Chicago in 1972. Any number of South Side
businessdistricts were going under as their customers no longer _had_
to shop there,and the reason didn't seem to be recognized by the
politicians or the community
activists. (Also there had been devastating riots on the West Side in
1967-68,abd 20 years later the neighborhoods had not recovered.)