Thursday, 5 March 2009

A Fair Diphthong

"Fair is fair."

It's only today that I realized I don't understand what that means. Is it a redundancy? Like the expression "Boys will be boys"? Or does the second fair mean "good" or "beautiful" as in "my fair lady"?

The English language mystifies me.

And I learned in linguistics class the other day that Canadians pronounce words like "mouse" and "house" as "muhws" and "huhws", with a diphthonged short u instead of an ow sound. It's a little odd that I had never noticed before. The "oot and aboot" jokes have always baffled me, but now I understand.

“I can speak French but I cannot understand it.” Mark Twain

5 comments:

CavDawg said...

Is that to say that you pronounce these words in the Canadian or American way?

Did I ever tell you I road-tripped to Lethbridge? We meant to go to Calgary, but didn't quite make it. My friend and I, who are more or less a couple of Americans, loved asking the locals for directions just to listen to their unique choice of vowel sounds.

Also, when we were in the police station, the cop we talked to actually did say "eh" a lot after sentences.

Oh, Canada. I'm a big fan of your homeland.

Carla said...

I speak like a Canadian. I've never heard the difference between the way we pronounce the vowels in house vs. proud. I just processed "ow" every time. It's odd, really. I thought Americans were throwing short A sounds all over the place.

Dare I ask what you were doing in the police station? I wonder if that cop was local to Alberta. In Calgary, at least, we usually say "Hey" instead of "Eh".

Anonymous said...

My cousin (a lady in her 40s at the time) in Ontario used to say "eh" after everything she said. I found it hard not to crack up when talking with her.
Regarding the short a sound--I agree! I've told you about when I was in New York many years ago and the girls in my cabin at camp would always giggle when I was praying. I'd stop and ask them what they found amusing and they said it was the way I said "God". I was definitely using a short o sound, probably sounding rather British. I asked them what I should be saying and they said, "Praise Gad". I expressed my dismay at this and informed them I would NOT be saying "Gad" anytime soon. :)
The rest of our team (all Americans) used to tease Gloria and I a lot about our vocabulary, too, like calling napkins "serviettes" and cutlery "silverware". Or was it we called the silverware "cutlery"???? Ah...memory fails me.
Does CavDawg call his aunts "ants" or "onts"?
Mom

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I used bad grammar there. I should have said "Gloria and me". My bad! :)

art said...

Well Sawndra, you made a grammar mastake. I wonder what the issue was? Cahrla, what do you think? I only speak the King's English.