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American Joke about Australian Pronunciation



     The debate abaht pernunciation elecited this contribution from Ron Bracewell, who hails from Awstaylia:
     "A young American flier was shot down in the South Pacific and regained consciousness in an Australian field hospital on the island of Wakarua.
     For a time he studied the beautiful nurse hovering around him. Then he asked weakly, "Nurse, nurse, have they brought me here to die?" "No," she said, "They brought you here yesterdie."
     This generally gets a laugh in the U.S. In Australia they laugh too. They are laughing at the peculiar idea that some Americans seem to have about Australian speech. Maybe Yanks think that there is no distinction between die and day in Australia. Who knows what they think.
     We linguists can explain what is really going on and would be happy to do so if the International Phonetic Alphabet was available.
     The same phenomenon is at play in regard to Earl Boiner (Ronald probably knew him well) or in "Thoity doity oily boids sitting on a poich, choiping and boiping and eating poiple woims." The next bona fide New Jersey speaker you meet, ask if bird rhymes with Boyd in NJ."

Ronald Hilton - 04/13/99


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     Hoover Archivist Elena Danielson sent one of several messages received about Brooklynese. She writes:
     "Re the shift in pronouncing "er" to "oi" in parts of the East Coast: Historian Bertram "Bert" Wolfe from Brooklyn befriended the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who was enchanted with his Brooklyn accented and addressed her letters to him "Querido Boitito!"
     My unnecessary footnote: Hoover Sovietologist Bert Wolfe and his wife Ella were friends of painters Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo. Ella is still alive, aged ???. Waiser Helen Solanum, who sees her regularly, is asked to give Ella our love.

Ronald Hilton - 04/14/99


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