Friday, July 17, 2009

We will now sing a sam

OK, this isn't going to make much sense to some of you who already speak with a different kind of regional accent, but here goes...

I have always been curious about the way my grandmother (of mixed Scottish and German heritage) pronounced words like "Psalm" and "palm." Almost everyone else I have ever met--in this part of Ontario--gives these words a drawn-out vowel sound--in other words, they rhyme with "bomb."

Grandma enjoyed describing the lovely pam trees in Florida (to rhyme with jam), and she told me that she got a great deal of comfort out of reading her favourite Sams.

So...somewhat amazingly...after I met Mr. Fixit, I heard one of his relatives talk about a certain town which we'll call Balmerton, but he pronounced it Bammerton. This is the only other time I've heard someone pronounce words the way Grandma did, and he didn't even come from the same place she did (although not too far away).

Can anybody identify this particular habit of speech? Has anybody else in southern Ontario heard older people talk about pams and sams? Is it a particular ethnic thing, or just a rural way of talking?


Jen said...

I'm a long-time lurker from south-western ON (near Owen Sound). I went to the Univ. of Waterloo for my undergrad, but now live elsewhere.

I know the accent of which you speak, and I think it's a rural Ontario, older generation, hick-ish accent. I have never heard it from anyone under the age of 60 or so.

Jen in ON

Anonymous said...

I've heard it from my grandmother and other who have immigrated from Scotland.

Mama Martin

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