Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the whole nature vs. nurture debate also annoyed me

Well, it's just another wild night around here.

And by wild I mean Matt and I just spent a considerable amount of time comparing our respective pronunciations of the word "Alabama."

I pronounce the third "a" as I would in flat or cat, but Matt pronounces it like spam or clam.  He tried to back up his argument for his pronunciation by saying that it's how Florida Georgia Line sings it in their songs, except he pronounced Florida as "Floor-i-duh" instead of "Flar-da" which is how I say it AND IT'S LIKE I DON'T EVEN KNOW HIM.

I think diction and pronunciation is endlessly fascinating.  In fact, my family has endured countless hours of listening to me pontificate on the belief that if we're going to pronounce train as "chrain," we either need to change the spelling or change the way we say it.

After Matt had burned out on the  topic, I broached the subject with Emily.  We discussed our pronunciations for bagel (beggle), syrup (seerup), and water (wooder).

And just when I thought we couldn't analyze those words any longer, Emily told me that when she uses the word water in a sentence, she says wooder.  But, when she says the word by itself, she says wah-ter.

She is so complex.

Speaking of being complex, or maybe the opposite, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts since I've been working from home so much.  I was in the market for some new ones, so this weekend I checked out the top rated podcasts of the week, and decided to subscribe to one called Limetown.

It.  Was.  Fascinating.

It's about the investigation surrounding three hundred people who disappeared ten years ago in Tennessee under very mysterious circumstances.  Since it was only ten years ago, I thought I'd be able to recall hearing about this case on the news, but I couldn't.  So yesterday I decided to do some serious Limetown research.

And right away, I found out why there was no news coverage.

Because it's fiction.

I'd been duped.

It reminded me of my freshman year of college when I had to take a psychology class.  As part of the class, we had to participate in three studies run by grad students.  I signed up for my first one, trekked all the way to the graduate studies building, signed in, and took a seat in the waiting room.

Another student who was waiting struck up a conversation, and we made small talk as we waited for our turn.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I began to get frustrated because didn't they know my time was precious and I could be in my dorm painting my nails or taking a mid-afternoon siesta in the library studying?

When the grad student leading the study came out and called my name, I said goodbye to my waiting room friend and followed the grad student into the meeting room.

"Well, you can go!" he said.  "You're all done.  The student in the waiting room was part of the study.  We are observing how people react to strangers in various stressful situations."

WELL.

I did what any angry eighteen year would do in that situation which was to march right out of that psych building and call my mother.  I was FURIOUS.  I felt betrayed.  I hated knowing that I was being judged on what I said and how I acted without being told ahead of time.

I bet that same grad student is the man behind the Limetown podcast.

And that's why I wasn't a psychology major.

But maybe I should've studied linguistics.

27 comments:

Myra said...

Dang, I would be so pissed if I was duped through a podcast!! My cousins from Wisconsin pronounce things differently from me and I always get a kick out of it, hahaha.

shelleystursma said...

After reading this, I felt like I should take this test again:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?_r=0

It shows three cities you might be from based on how you answer the questions. Mine were Lincoln, NE, Fort Wayne, IN, and Grand Rapids, MI. Since I live just outside of Grand Rapids (and was born in the area as well), it's pretty accurate!

Bethany Carson said...

Heh! Enjoyed reading this post. My family has had many conversations on the correct pronunciation of words. My sister is very interested in the topic. I agree with you on the pronunciation of Alabama.

Jenn @ Optimization Actually said...

Ok, so I say the "a"s in flat, cat, spam, and clam all the same way, so now I'm totally confused about how you guys are pronouncing them. But the second "a" in Alabama I pronounce as an "uh" sound. Al-uh-ba-muh. I like comparing pronunciations! My husband is actually from Alabama, and there are quite a few words he says different than I do (I grew up all over, but always in the North or West). Syrup is a really good one to ask! I need to see how he pronounces it. (I say "suh-rup.")

P!nky said...

This is great, just great. My husband pronouces bagel hilariously and I never let him forget it when he says the word. SO now he says the round breakfast bread that isn't a doughnut, oooops.

I was so intrigued by Limetown, I was getting ready to research it, then I read the next sentence. You duped me!

Bijoux said...

I love linguistics and did a post about the article mentioned by Shelley above. When my oldest went to college (an hour away) people told her she had an accent! I remember her calling me and being pissed! "I do NOT have an accent!" Apparently, we do!

Amanda Klein said...

LOL at the grad student study. I've participated in a few, but I was always the opposite - wondering if weird normal parts of signing in etc. were REALLY part of the study. Also, the psych building on our campus at UCSB had NO WINDOWS (for study purposes). Eeek!

Ashley said...

My degree is in English and my college linguistic classes always amazed me.

ALSO, I would have been mad too.....A.) at the podcast B.) at the grad study

I watched a documentary on some educational channel the other day and was fascinated until I went to research and found out it was fake. SO NOT COOL PEOPLE!

Heather said...

I love me some podcasts! Have you listened to "Criminal?" Those stories are true so you won't feel duped...

-Heather
I do what I want.

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I love love love talking about pronunciation. I also find it endlessly fascinating.

When I order water in other parts of the country or other countries, they have no idea what I'm saying. I am physically unable to correct my pronunciation. MFD has to do it.

I don't think I have an accent, but my friends that aren't from here do think I do.

FYI, I am...
wooder
beggle
Al-uh-ba-muh
Flar-duh
sir-rup
crown for crayon

Morgan Apfel said...

Pronunciation is super fascinating!! I get into a lot of these conversations because I'm a Michigander living in TX so people are always like, "wow you said that weird" and I'm like, "no you did." Lol. It truly is so interesting. But even my husband whose also from MI will say things so different than me, we argue constantly about the word "either" and "pecan." I think a lot of it also comes from our parents though. How they pronounced things to us. ANYWAYS though, lime town! That's been on my list to listen to forever! Glad to know it's not real ahead of time, because I lost a lot of sleep worrying about Adnan from serial. Just kidding lol.

x Morgan / www.morningappleblog.com

Lindsay at Lindsay'sSweetWorld said...

Hehe, you guys always crack me up! I'm from Georgia and we're very close to the Alabama line (almost too close - haha, I KID), so I hear people talk about Alabama a lot. Hate to break it to ya, but all of us natives pronounce it like Matt (clam and spam). When I hear someone pronounce it like you I immediately know that they're not from around these parts. But you know... tomAYto, tomAHto...

Trista @ The Classy Chaos said...

Oh my goodness. I'll have to check out that podcast! It's kind of like that one show where they set you up just to see how you'll react in questionable situations. I wouldn't want to know!!

Mattie @ Northwest Native said...

I just read through ALL of the comments to see if anyone else pronounces 'flat or cat' and 'spam or clam' the same and was relieved that Jenn does but surprised only one other person does!!! I'm like racking my brain trying to imagine how the 'a' could be pronounced different between them haha.

A lot of Hawaiians come to the PNW for college, so there were a bunch at my school. One day they were talking about how 'marry' 'Mary' and 'merry' all sound different and I was like, "Umm, no." So I started saying each word and seeing if they could guess which ones I was saying (I say them the exact same I swear...) and they got them ALL RIGHT! I will never understand that.

ae said...

I am fascinated by pronunciations as well. Being from the South, people are forever commenting on your accent. Even other Southerners, either you are too country or not country enough. I can mostly tell what part of the South (or even region of GA) people are from based on their accent.

Amanda - Voyage of the MeeMee said...

I would've flipped off the person in the lobby on my way out. :)

BLovedBoston said...

I would seriously be so angry if I listened to a pod cast and it was fake like if serial turned out to be fake I'd be mad! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

oh my gosh i would have been so mad about that thing as well, i probably wouldn't have talked to the stranger. and that podcast! what the heck.
KC and I love to find out words we say differently, there are a lot more of them because of the whole Australia vs US thing. My favourites are Nissan and Hyundai. Something about car brands makes our countries say them differently ;) we all say Ford the same though. haha!

Martha Woods said...

I'm often told I have a strong Wisconsin accent (I live in the PNW). The other day one of my coworkers and I got into it about how we each say "root beer" (I apparently say it "rut bayer"). Pronunciation is fascinating!

Claire said...

You definitely should have studied linguistics! I didn't...but I took a couple classes in college and they were my very favorite! Also because I grew up in PA but now live in Idaho and I just went home to visit and was floored by how noticeable everyone's "accents" were now that I'd been away for so long. I've been come a floooorida person, and I definitely say spam, clam, flat, and cat, all with the same A haha

Brass Honey said...

This was a great read! My hubby is from the east and is always teasing me for the way I say pillow = pellow and milk = melk.

Evelina said...

I love linguistics too! It is so fascinating! (PS - I say floor-i-duh, wah-ter, sih-rup, bay-gle)
I was a psych major and totally saw that coming when you started explaining it. That stuff makes me all giddy inside hahaha!

Corie M said...

LOL I love that you guys debate phonetic/linguistic pronunciation in your down time :)

I can always count on your posts to give me a good chuckle!

Erica Ashley said...

I am ALWAYS discussing word dictation and pronunciation! I am from Michigan but live in Texas so my students tend to laugh at the way I say some things! It is very interesting how different areas of the the United Stats pronounce things!

Rachel said...

I'm with Mattie and Jenn, flat, cat, spam, clam, are all short a sounds to me! Guess it's another example of regional pronunciation. I'm midwest with a heavy dose of British/Malaysian English thanks to being here so long (though I will never give in to British spelling!), and a "ya'll" left over from the three years I lived in the South. I sound obviously American to people here, but in America people ask me where I'm from because I sound a little "off" to everybody.

Baby Sister said...

Oh man, that's funny. Hubby pronounces some things differently, but considering the fact that he's from Texas, I would have thought it would have been worse. I pronounce "Alabama" like Matt does, same as "Florida"...and I pronounce water like wah-ter. Must be a regional thing. How funny. But I love linguistics, it's so fun!

Lindsey said...

This whole post is amazing. Pronunciation is something I listen to, too, but I love your podcast and psych story. lol!