March 22, 2004

They can kiss her grits

Ginger Stampley describes her reaction to reading the list of 100 most mispronounced words that's been making the rounds lately:

“If they think there’s something wrong with the dialect pronunciations ‘bidness’, ‘bob wire’ (aka ‘bob wahr’) and ‘yolk’ pronounced without an obvious l, they can kiss my sweet Texas grits.”

and to reading my exchange with Dr. Language himself, Robert Beard:

“They can definitely kiss my grits, because this U/Non-U pronunciation crap chaps my hide. I speak Texan, not Received Midwestern Broadcast.”

My correspondence with Dr. Beard began because I complained about another piece of overreaching linguistic moralizing from, one that focuses specifically on anti-Texan prejudices, namely their list of "5 Top Mispronunciations by President Bush in 2003". These lists have a pervasive anti-regional bias that I would find distasteful even if I weren't married to a Texan. But the list-maker's desire to feel right while putting others in the wrong puts nearly every American on the "wrong" side of the line: plenty of Midwestern broadcasters say Nevada with the vowel of cot rather than cat; and a professional lexicographer emailed in response to my exchange with Dr. Beard, a couple of months ago, to say that "as for February, I think my chances of ever hearing a native speaker of English utter the word \feb-roo-ary\ in an unself-conscious way are about as good as finding the Loch Ness monster."

So they can kiss our collective apple pie, while they're at it.

[Update 3/24/2004: apparently grits are chic at the moment.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at March 22, 2004 10:16 PM