New England Tahk

2017-Jan-05, Thursday 21:09
cos: (Default)
[personal profile] cos
From a coworker:
    My mother who had a career as a school psychologist, moved to Southern Maine in her forties, having lived in Cincinnati since girlhood. Early on, she was testing a kid, and asked him, "Can you tell me what a hat is?"

    The kid answered, "A haht? A haht's what beats in your chest!"

    The thing is, when I tell that story to native New Englanders, they don't get it. "That's a perfectly good answer for a kid!"

Date: 2017-Jan-06, Friday 16:18 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Why no, I'm not a NOC.

Date: 2017-Jan-06, Friday 16:36 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wait, something doesn't jive here.

If she's from Cincinnati, she would've said 'hæt' aloud. A New Englander reading this would think of the sound 'h/ah/t'. However the Cincy lady would have spoken it, not written it.

I lived in Boston for a dozen years. I know pronunciation differs. However you're suggesting that aural parsing differs.

I understand this with Long Island accents, where they say "Mary, merry, and marry" differently but us upstate New Yorker cannot hear a difference. It took me a year of Nassau County jagovs laughing at me before I realized they nasalized two of them (the ones without the 'e') and had this vowel stretch on the Virgin's name.

Do Bostonians think "hat" and "heart" are homophones? I never noticed anything that extreme. How would they honor the flag at the opening of sporting events?

Date: 2017-Jan-06, Friday 20:20 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Do Bostonians think "hat" and "heart" are homophones? I never noticed anything that extreme.
I've known a tiny handful of people with accents that *strong*, but I don't think they were in that particular direction. (Closer to "hot" and "heart" being homophones? Though not all the way there?)

But accents can vary a great deal based just on where in the Boston area you are (I once read something which described how they'd migrated around since the mid-to-late 1800s; I wish I could find it again); the stereotypical "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" accent exists, but is a pretty small % of the metro-area population. A Southern Maine accent might well be nowhere near Bostonian.

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