sarchasmic: (innocence)
[personal profile] sarchasmic
One of the things I tried to describe to my wife a year ago, shortly after we had moved to Illinois, was this cunningly annoying vowel thing that the locals do when they speak, especially with the letter "A".

She listened to me try to describe it, then nodded and said, "You're talking about the flat vowels that Midwesterners have. My voice teacher spent a LOT of time working so that I didn't have it."

And I can understand why. I spent an unhealthy amount of time trying to imagine how I might write it so one could actually *hear* it upon reading it. But I never got it.

Fast forward 9 months later. Yesterday to be precise. My wife's describing something from her job, when she starts to transition using the word "and." And there it was. And. Rand. Dan. Anything with that specific vowel sound, and it gets perverted, defiled, even, by that flattening.

I think I've figured out how to describe it for those of you who have yet to...lay ear? upon it. It's tricky, but here's what I've come up with:

1) Take any "a" sound from the above list (and, Rand, Dan).

2) Add an "eh" as if you were to say "The letter N" with the "N" in mind. Eh--got it?

3) Now place that "eh" in front of your "a" vowel. "Eh-and we were going to see Deh-an lambast the Reh-and Corporation."

4) Speed it up so it's now one vowel. You may need to transition a "Y" sound between the "eh" and the "a". "Eh-yand that meh-yan tried to pleh-yan a new pronunciation guide for the masses."

It's very nasal, and if you can picture a middle-aged white woman with overly done up hair staring disapprovingly at you as you do this, it may help.

Then again, it may not.

not-so-random comment from a random commenter

Date: 2005-09-03 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] billygoatsluvme.livejournal.com
Have you ever seen the show The Nanny? Fran Drescher's character and her mother have that accent. Of course, Fran's got her whole voice funkiness going on in addition to that, but the mom's a good example. Her voice is a little funky too, come to think of it... But yeah. The accent is there.

P.S. I've had a whole ad campaign centering around your screen name (spelled one letter different) planned out for about a year now. Ask me about it if you're curious.
From: [identity profile] sarchasmic.livejournal.com
If you're still reading, I'm curious.

Date: 2005-09-10 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vaudy.livejournal.com
No American vowel is really pure, region notwithstanding. My Chaucer prof last fall was talking about that when she was trying to teach us how to pronounce Middle English. Our "long a" is not /e/, it's /ei/. "Long o" is not /o/, it's /ou/. I think she mentioned a few others, but those are the ones I can think of. Maybe this flat /ae/ thing is Chicago-specific, because news anchors and other media firgures are usually taught to emulate the Midwestern accent (at least they were when I was taking linguistics. Maybe it's changed).

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