Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2003 09:04 pm
Still looking, kev, for that one particular column where the "dubya" pronunciation was first cited. Meanwhile, you might find the following article interesting - dated 4/28/2000. Click on the URL for the entire dissertation.



Talking Texas: Y'alls, Drawls, and Monophthongs


Across the country, few people blink anymore when a president "or presidential hopeful" talks like a Texan. George W. Bush goes on Larry King and says that in considering U.S. military obligations, he thinks we need clear policy about when to commit troops abroad. But Bush's "think" sounds like "thank," and his "clear" rhymes with "burr." This is a man who, in his own pronunciation, wants to be our "prezdint. . . .

. . . STUDYING TEXAN SPEAK Don't let the jargon intimidate you: "monophthong" is an easy term to grasp. Remember when your first-grade teacher told you about diphthongs? That word is a compound: "di-" for two, and "-phthong" from the Greek "phthongos," meaning sound. A diphthong is a vowel that's actually two sounds glided together. Think of the word "night." The "i" is really the "ah" sound, followed rapidly by an "ee." "Night" is the quick and graceful combining of "nah-" plus "-eet."

But in Texas, the second part of that diphthong the "ee" often gets dropped, making "night" come out "nahht." Instead of two vowel sounds, there's only one: hence, the word "monophthong" to describe the result. It was LBJ's monophthong that shamed him when he said the first word in "Mahh fellow Amurricans." Lyndon is long gone, but countless Texans still turn words like "swipe" to "swap" and "white" to "watt." This "monophthongization" is one of the most common features of the statewide accent.

There are others. One is the Panhandle and North Texas tendency to turn long "a's" into long "i's" (a patient from Lubbock telling a doctor she's been hurting the past twenty-four hours describes being "in pine all die"). In addition, many people say "hep" for "help." "Ten" just like "tin." "Farm" when they mean "form." "Wadn't" and "dudn't" for "wasn't" and "doesn't." Older people call business "bidness." Some leave "r" off the end of their syllables, making the number fory, for example, sound like "fawty." And as in George Dubya's appearance on Larry King "clear" comes out sounding like "klurr." . . .

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