Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The night was dry, yet it was raining*

Jan Freeman's The Word blog has moved to a new perch. Gotta say, I like the name: Throw Grammar from the Train. Especially if said with a non-rhotic accent. But wait! Considering the addition of coda [ɹ] to word final [ə]—which addition is characteristic of some New England dialects—it can work either way.

Many years ago, when… say… John Kerry's accent was full of more regional markers, he might have pronounced grammar without the final [ɹ], and he might have pronounced grandma with the final [ɹ].

So— my pronunciation of the blog title sounds a lot like our young John Kerry saying "Throw Grandma from the train."

And— young John Kerry's pronunciation of the blog title sounds a lot like me saying "Throw Grandma from the train."

(This is of course supposing a quick pronunciation of grandma not as Grand -Ma but as gramma.)

* Not a meaningful post title. Just a quote from the movie, Throw Momma from the Train.
** The young Kerry I've created for this post, does indeed speak as I'm suggesting. That's the nice thing about historical fiction. The facts fit my needs.


  1. In my experience, we only add -r to words when the next word begins in a vowel, except sometimes when joking around. e.g. "Jessicer" as a pet name. Also, grammar and Gramma have different stress patterns anyway. I know I'm being really picky, but this ia a linguistics blog so I figure it's okay.

  2. thanks for adding that. it's a necessary point. it's not too picky and it's exactly relevant.

    i did overlook the environment beyond the word. there are times when at the end of a sentence, even if the next sentence begins with a consonant, the -r is added. but that's not the case in the blog title. so… i'll go with your example of the facetious -r. perfect.


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