Volume III, No. 1, Fall 1975

This Speech of Ours

Complied by Jenny Kelso

The Ozark speech is very colorful, but because of the influence of television and higher education, our Ozark dialect, like other regional dialects, is becoming standardized. Television uses a standard pronunciation and usage based on mid-western speech which has become accepted and widely used. This has a leveling effect on all regional dialects because young children whose speech patterns are being set spend many hours before a television hearing and picking up that pronunciation. Schools also have a leveling effect on regional dialects. Many English teachers would be astonished if one of their pupils said, "I wouldn't use them /plau'wers/ pliers to fix that /cam'ry/ camera," and would try to "correct" the pronunciation and usage.

However, many people are studying and preserving regional dialects because of the variety and interest they add to English. I, like many travelers, have found through my own experience that different dialects are fascinating to hear, even though these differences sometimes lead to misunderstandings. One family, new to the Ozarks, received a phone call about giving their daughter a ride home.

"Are you'uns going to pick up your daughter?"

"No, Ewings aren't. We had planned to pick her up ourselves."

"Well, she said you'uns would pick her up."

"I don't know. There wasn't any plan about them doing it."

Another person at a drugstore counter wanted to make sure she was drinking from the right glass.

"Is this /yur'n/ your'n?"

"No, that's Coke."

Here are a few commonly used pronunciations found in the Ozarks:

Add "a's" before verbs--a-shinin', a-rainin', a-skeered.

Change /i/, long i, to the /a/ sound in car--/far/ fire, /tar/ tire, /war/ wire /har/ hire

Add "h" Sound on it and overalls---hit, overhalls.

Leave off endings--/pry/ prize.

Leave off beginning vowel sounds--/magine/ imagine, /lows/ allows.

/e/, short e vowel sound is changed to /i/, short i--/kittle/ kettle, /git/ get, /pin/ pen.

Words ending in "ow" get the "er"

sound--/holler/, /belier/, /feller/, Jwinder/, /yeller/.

Some individual words found among the Ozarkians' speech are:

/argy/ argue

/arnj/ orange

/chaw of backer/ chew of tobacco

/cheer/ chair

/chester drawers/ chest of drawers

/did van/ divan (meaning couch)

/fig ger/ figure

/fur in ers/ foreigners

/keer/ care

/lack/ like

/nar e/ narrow

/new mon ie/ pneumonia

/pert neer/ pretty near

/pie'anna/ piano

/sum'ers/ somewheres

/thrashin/ threshing

/whur/ where


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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