Study: Survey maps point out America’s pronunciation melting pot

June 17, 2013


"Hello Mary, this is Sarah. Do you have anymore of those Lava coopons?"

“Hello Thelma Lou, this is Helen. Do you have anymore of those soap coopons?”

Did you ever wonder the correct way to pronounce words like caramel, crayon or lawyer?

A recent linguistics survey by the University of North Carolina visualized here in interactive graphs points out that the “correct” way may depend on where you live.

For example, from Florida to Maine and as far west as Louisiana, folks use three syllables to say caramel: “cah-ruh-mel.”

Everywhere else, from New York to Washington State its pronounced “car-mel.”

Most of the South and Midwest pronounce crayon “cray-yahn” while the New England and Western states from Texas to California put more of a twang in it: “cray-yawn” (rhymes with “dawn”).

Most of the country pronounces lawyer “loy-yer.”

Only in the South do we thicken it up with “law-yer.”

Also of note, most of the country thinks their mother’s sister is an “ant”; only in New England is she an “ah-unt.”

The South always makes sure that plenty of “man-aze” is in their potato salad while the rest of the country adds “may-uh-naze.”

When Jesus healed the blind man it was a “meer-acle” everywhere except in Utah where it was just a “mih-racle.”

You can spend a lot of time looking at these charts.

Personally, I use three syllables to say caramel, yawn with crayons and put the law in lawyer.

Source: Business Insider

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

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