Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More on peotry.

Kathi Taylor (praise be to her) commented on my pome "Ode to my bitch" that the "possum/awesome ('ossum')" rhyme, which I said wouldn't work in British English, might also bypass some versions of American English, too.

It works the other way round. Here's a clerihew what I wrote:

Lady Chatterley
Said: "Just latterly
I've dispensed with umbrellas;
Now I'm covered by Mellors."

But that only works in British English (maybe Boston, too), where the post-vocalic 'r' in Mellors isn't pronounced. (It would come out as "Mellahs.") It also means I couldn't rhyme Chatterley with "philately," which of course gets you everywhere, except in America. So here's a bi-lingual version:

Lady Chatterley
Said: "Just latterly
I've topped the best-sellers
Because of ten pages with Mellors."


  1. Regional pronunciations are always fascinating- especially for city names. A largish (for SD) town about 50 miles from here is locally pronounced: Urine (it's spelled Huron). And my state capital is pronounced: Peer.

    Then again, I grew up in a town that the wonderful Lauri Hart says sounds like a sneeze (Snohomish).

  2. When Clive James was a TV critic, he had a lot of fun with "Dallas," noticing that everyone seemed to facing one "prahlm" or another. As in "You got a prahlm with that?" I noticed that Bob Dole couldn't manage to pronounce the office he was running for -- it always sounded like he was saying he wanted to be the "Present." And let's draw a veil over George W. Bush's complete inability to handled a voiced "s."

    But nothing can beat England's regional variations. Years ago, I was reading with two of my first wife's cousins (and cousins to each other), both elementary-school-age girls at the time, oh Lord, nearly thirty years ago. The younger one, who lived in London, had just pronounced the word "something" as "summfink."

    "Now, Susie," I said in my best teacher voice, "you know that's not 'summfink.'"

    The older girl was visiting from Lancashire, Blackburn I think, as in "I read the news today, oh boy, four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire." She looked into the book at the word I was indicating.

    "No, it's soomuht," she declared. (That's as close as I can get without pronunciation diacriticals. Say the "oo" as in book, not room, and the "u" as a schwa sound, as in "put.")

    Sumfink. Soomuht. Same word, less than 200 miles apart.

  3. I love the name Snohomish. Ever since I've been in this country, I've been appalled that a nation studded with place names like Poughkeepsie or Albuquerque or Ronkonkoma or Hauppage or Antietam or La Jolla has to gall to complain that they can't pronounce England's Worcestershire.