Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Random Thoughts Tuesday-schlepping-into-Wednesday

Alphabetic Migration

It is fairly commonly known that various regions of the United States, and indeed the world, sport distinct dialects varying in sound, metre, and cadence from region to region. Some, if not all, of these dialects seem to omit letters in the spoken word which otherwise appear in the written form of the same word. Still others seem to add sounds in the spoken word which do not appear in the written form. The question, then, is "what happens to the missing letters and from where are the additional ones obtained?" This apparent alphabetic migration could well prove a subject in need of study.

For example, in the northeastern United States it is not uncommon to hear the absence of the letter 'R'. One does not hear 'PARK THE CAR', one hears 'PAK THE CA'. The question then is, what happened to the missing R's. Turns out they show up in northern Texas and parts of Oklahoma where children are not told to 'WASH' their hands before supper, but to 'WARSH' them. Furthermore, vowels appear to migrate almost at will. In Utah for example, 'HEART' is frequently heard as 'HORT' an 'O' having been substituted for the more common 'EA'. Perhaps the 'O' came from the southern part of the US where 'YOU' is often heard as 'YALL', the 'A' substituting for 'OU'. The destination of the 'E' from 'HEART' and the 'U' from 'YOU', as well as the source of the 'LL' in 'YALL' is still a puzzle and therefore, a matter worthy of further study.

There are even international possibilities here. By way of illustration, 'U' gets short shrift in Arabic which seems to omit it altogether, even after q, 'QATAR' and 'QORAN' for example. In addition, Hungary and the Czech Republic along with much of eastern Europe also exhibit an alarming shortage of vowels, many words of six or more letters utilizing only one. One need only look to Finland however, to see that not only do Finns have an oversupply of vowels, but probably enough to supply the entire European continent. Many Finnish words, particularly names, use double vowels in a rather selfish fashion. TEEMU and JAARI are but two glaring examples of such intemperate overuse of vowels.

Additional vowels could also be had from Japan and Hawaii whose words seem uncommonly balanced in their use of consonants and vowels, SAYONARA or ALOHA for example. That seems patently unfair. Given a roughly four to one ratio of consonants to vowels in most alphabets, to maintain a one to one ratio in one's language would appear to exceed the bounds of necessity. It is easy to see the potential for a considerable grant from the United Nations since that body claims to desire and work to obtain fairness for all people.

Filed under Curiosities by
Nuda Veritas

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