Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Word and Question 16

This is my October entry into the Word and Question poetry game sponsored by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. Follow the link to see more of this month's entries.

On Dialects
(or is it dialectics??)

"AL-e-gory"/ "a-LEG-o-ry"
My husband and I will disagree
(Probably till the end of our days)
About the correctness of these ways
To pronounce the word. On the other hand
Unlike many couples in the land
We both say "to-MAY-to", "crEEk", "pe-KAHN",
The list of agreements goes on and on.

Neither of us says "melk" or "pellow"
So we don't sound like that local fellow
Who also will "aks" you what you know,
And tell you just how "fur" you can go.

Our accents are generally the same
When we play the pronunciation game.
(Though when I was a child I said "warsh" and "rinze" --
I still do it sometimes just for grins.)
But I wonder how we sound to you,
And if, perhaps, it's really true
That we both mispronounce things all the time.
(I'll do it on purpose, to force a rhyme....)

But you want to know who says that word which way?...
I'm right and he's wrong, that's all I'll say!

Word: allegory
Question: Were you hoping for more?

The standard spellings of the words in quotation marks are, in order: allegory (twice); tomato; creek; pecan; milk; pillow; ask; far; wash; rinse. I am absolutely certain that every reader will pronounce one of these differently than I do! And I am very sad that I couldn't work in "umber-ella" (umbrella) or "wheel-barrel" (wheelbarrow.)


Enbrethiliel said...


As usual, Ellen, I love it!

And given everyone's different accents, it's an especially delightful poem for reading aloud! ;-)

The ending is great. It turns the whole poem into an allegory as well. =D

Thanks for playing this month!

Belfry Bat said...

That was so much fun! It read as though you had fun, too, which is an encouraging thought.

I'm used to being asked if I'm from England (though only once by an Englishwoman), and every time I have to say "no" I hope they're not disappointed. This past Sunday a self-described "Lusophone" (that is, he grew up listening to Portuguese) asked if I were Ukrainian, of all things, and I can't tell why. Some people have funny ideas about what words usually sound like when [...], don't they?

Salome Ellen said...

Thanks for the kind words. It was a lot of fun to write! (It only took me so long because the month of October has been crazy around here, as, it appears, it has been everywhere.) I've always been fascinated by sounds, and own several books on dialects and language shifts, and of course I LOVE Henry Higgins.

And I have an ongoing dispute with my children about the pronunciation of several proper names. So vote: does Laura sound exactly like Lora, or not??!!

Enbrethiliel said...


I know I've always said it as "LORA" in English . . . but it's "LAO-RA" whenever the romantic poem Florante at Laura came up in Filipino class.

Belfry Bat said...

... also not to be confused with dielectrics.