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Native accent vs. intended rhyme - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Native accent vs. intended rhyme
So, all the HP people know the whole "Gryffindor/Ravenclaw... that's supposed to rhyme?" issue. I ran across another one, this one different American accents (with me being the one with the weird accent).

In the accent in my house, the word "creek" is pronounced to rhyme with "stick." Since my mother would tell me stories about when she was little on Tonawanda Creek Road, I heard it a lot, and apparently totally internalized it, so that's the way I hear that particular word in my head when I see it.

For years, I've had a copy of "An Evening With John Denver," which includes the song "Boy From the Country." Because the song is about how everyone thinks the titular character is crazy, I never thought about the fact that I heard one of the lyrics as "Because he spoke to fish in the trees..." I mean, no wonder people thought he was nuts.

Of course, the real lyrics are,
Because he spoke with fish in the creek
He tried to tell us that the animals could speak

And I realized this about two months ago. Seriously, I don't know how many times I listened to that song and heard "trees" because my mind didn't wrap around "creek" and "speak" as rhymes!
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threnody From: threnody Date: May 16th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
In my mind, they're two different things. A creek is slightly larger than a 'crick', which is larger than a stream. Don't ask me why.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 16th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's as sensible as fish in trees.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: May 16th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I pronounce creek to rhyme with speak, and I spent some time trying to figure out why "trees" seemed to fit better with the lyrics as I remember them than "creek"! I eventually realized that I seem to have thought the line was "fish in the stream."

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 16th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
The "eek" sound doesn't really like to rhyme. Somehow, the line wants a softer consonant to end it.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: May 17th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I use both "Crick" and "creak". It's Cripple Crick, but Clear Creak Canyon, Bear Creak, but I go to stick my feet in the crick.

Yeah, I know, doesn't make sense to me, either...
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: May 17th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Never mind the crick/creek, I'm wondering how you say Gryffindor and Ravenclaw so that they don't rhyme! Accents are a funny thing!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 17th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
And it's really hard to explain in text, because obviously, we see the same letters and hear them entirely differently.

The "or" sound in most American accents hits the "r" pretty squarely--"This or that" would be more likely slurred to "This 'r that" than "This o' that"--which flattens the "o", putting the middle of the tongue toward the upper part of the mouth at a fairly high angle, while "aw" (obviously) has no "r" and the "aw" dipthong is pronounced with the tongue almost all the way down in the middle. In other words, the two vowels aren't even particularly similar, which is why a lot of Americans were confused and confuddled!

(It's weird that being rhotic vs. non-rhotic would make such a difference in vowels, but that anticipated r has a big impact on where the tongue is.)

Edited at 2010-05-17 01:11 am (UTC)
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snuggle_muggle From: snuggle_muggle Date: May 17th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I have never once even thought that Gryffindor and Ravenclaw should rhyme. How would you even do it? Leave the R of the end of Gryffindor so that it sounds like Gryfinndo . . . But considering that the name means Gryffin of Gold or d'or (and the French don't leave off those Rs you can be sure), I cannot imagine that even making the slightest bit of sense. But then, here in Utah, the natives' "or" come out sounding like "ars" due to so much British influence, so maybe we more than anyone should have seen it as Gryfinndar. Weird.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: May 17th, 2010 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I think in British English they both end with an "aw" sound, vaguely like the first vowel in a New Yorker's pronunciation of "coffee."

Okay, bad example - now I'm imagining all the denizens of Hogwarts talking like Fran Drescher.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 17th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I looked it up. Apparently, "crick" is common in the north, except for downstate and New England.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 17th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always thought of "crick" as a western thing (because my western relatives say it and I don't [although I've moved around a bit too much to be sure what my region is]).

Pat McManus, the humor writer, wrote a thing saying a creek is one of those sparkly, bright things with clear water but cricks are brown ones with personality. He said that, when he saw "S. Creek" on a map, he could guess what the "S" stood for and why they wouldn't use it in front of children, but he couldn't understand why the map maker went all mealy mouthed and called it a creek, since you'd only give the S name to a crick.

Hearing the wrong word like that in a song is called a "Mondegreen" after the story of a girl who thought a ballad where an earl died and they "laid him on the green" ended with the earl and "Lady Mondegreen" dying (she thought it was a tragic love story).

In the same vein, I thought the song about being kissed by a rose in the gray was about being kissed by a rose on the grave. I thought it was about a guy still in love with his dead sweetheart who feels like her spirit is still there. I was never sure if the rose was already growing on her grave or if it was one he laid there. But, it touched him in some way he interprets as her kissing him.

Gryffindor and Ravenclaw rhyming.

I think the British do the same thing as some people in the Northeast where "law" is pronounced more like "low" (not quite the same as it's more of a pure "o" and not the slight dipthong where there's a bit of an "eh" at the end as you close off on the vowel).

Add to that, they drop r's at the end of syllables (although, unlike Bostonians, don't seem to add r's on at the end of words that didn't have them).

So, "Gryffindou" (lengthen it a little at the end to cover for the r you aren't saying) rhymes with "Ravenclou."

Getting back to "crick," I had a language teacher who suggested certain parts of the western US were going through a reversal of The Great Vowel Shift (an awful even in British history when the spellings had more or less become settled but speakers went and changed their vowel sounds. That's why we say "I" as "aye" instead of as a long e, like several other languages using the same alphabet as us [I have a lot of hard feelings about English spelling rules, and learning their history hasn't made me much happier]).

Ellen (aka Queen of Useless Trivia)
keestone From: keestone Date: May 17th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd say the western US (and other regions, actually)are going through a vowel shift, but it's certainly not a reversal of the Great Vowel Shift.


I'm from Southern California originally, and one of the major differences I can maybe describe is a move away from the æ sound in "cat" -- that æ sound kind of slides into a diphthong that ends more like the a in "father".
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alkari From: alkari Date: May 17th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure JKR would have heard the two Houses as basically rhyming words. Clearly this is one of those trans-Atlantic 'things'. As Professor Henry Higgins said:-

There even are places where English completely
disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 17th, 2010 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, certainly she did--but it's one that's much more foreign to the American ear than calling sneakers "trainers." ;p

I seem to recall reading someplace that American English is actually closer to historical English--there was a fad of Frenchifying things after the major emigration, and that was when several pronunciations changed. Of course, I can't remember where I read that!

In truth, both have gone predictably far from their original roots. Old English and even Middle English are pretty incomprehensible! Henry Higgins amuses me, of course, but as Brits, Americans, Aussies, and Kiwis are all native English speakers--not speakers of another language upon whom English was imposed--they're all equally English versions of English, just grown up in different directions. London, Birmingham, Boston, and Melbourne... all pretty much in the same boat, English-wise!

Edited at 2010-05-17 08:48 am (UTC)
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keestone From: keestone Date: May 17th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
This reminds me of when I was first studying the Romantic poets . . . Byron's Don Juan in particular. It just does not scan properly unless you mangle "Juan" horribly and say Don "JOO-un".
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