Regular Spelling
Thoughts and observations about language

Déjà Vowel

I thought I had talked about this once before, but apparently I haven't. Also, it seems Google isn't indexing anything for the search box, I'll look into that in a little while.

As I said, I thought I had talked about this before, but apparently I haven't. Must have slipped my mind, because I stopped hearing the commercial so I forgot it. I just heard it again the other day, however.

I'm talking, specifically, about a Washington Mutual commercial currently running on the radio. In it, the announcer talks about free checks for life or something, and another person commenting says he'd never heard about it (there's another commercial that introduces this character as a contrarian, arguing with everything he says). He then breaks down and admits that he had heard about them, but not in the voice of an Irish Sheepherder. So the announcer asks a couple questions to find out which kind of sheepherder he wants to hear, then does a impression of such a person. The contrarian is then very impressed, and the announcer comments that it's all in the vowels.

In accents, occasionally there will be some misuse of consonants (such as dropping the 't' resulting in "moun'ain" in my Utahn accent, or replacing it with a 'd' resulting in 'rollerskading'), but its much more often a result of the vowels. A different vowel is created by different positions of the tongue in the mouth. The tongue at the top in the front making a "ii" sound such as in east, tongue at the top in the back making a "u" sound such as in goose. The Wikipedia page on vowles gives a breakdown chart of all the vowel sounds, leading to approximately 35 positions for the tongue. The lips don't have as much effect on the pronunciation as you might think, try making an "oh" sound without rounding your lips, and you'll see what I mean.

A couple more examples of this in the Utahn accent are the more southern Utah pronouncing "creek" as "crick" (as in cricket), and some parts (I'm not sure the breakdown) pronouncing "pillow" as "pellow" (as in mellow).

Date posted: 30 10 07 - 12:00
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