Sending Rs to New England


On in Aug98.

Ed Rich wrote:
>> Magellan did his touring around 1520 or so. When he lost three out of four ships it must be remembered that one of the ships was loaded with Pizza spice which explains the reason that pizza did not appear on the scene for several more centuries. Another ship was loaded with saltpeter which explains the proliferation of people for the next several centuries. The third ship being loaded with caraway seeds delayed the development of Kummel until very recently.
: > Ref: Moosemeats Fractured History, Vol 1.

John Hobson (jhobson@) wrote:
> This is very close to my theory that a ship bound for Boston in 1742 loaded with Rs sank, and that is the reason that New Englanders speak without them. (I used to have a sweatshirt with the Harvard University seal on it and "Hahvahd" in large letters underneath.)

> Tom and Ray Malliazi (sp?) of National Public Radio's "Car Talk" have a campaign to send vowels to Bosnia -- I would suggest a similar effort be mounted to send Rs to New England. I have been collecting excess Rs here in the Midwestern US, where they are in abundance.

> Is there some kind person in the Northeastern US who would be prepared to accept these Rs for this worthy cause?

From: gans@ (Paul J. Gans)
I suspect that the Boston situation has a local explanation, but there is no doubt about the great European Vowel Shift. At some point in time, certainly pre-modern, a linguistic cataclysm hit Europe. Vowels shifted westward, leaving horrible results in its wake.

Countries such as Spain and Italy ended up with such a surfeit that they had to tuck excess vowels at the end of most nouns. The English made do (as they always do), adding extra vowels here and there (such as tough, which doesn't need the 'u'). The French kept the pretense of having vowel-consonant parity, but as we all know, don't really pronounce many of the consonants anyway, especially the terminal ones.

Germany seems to have been the midpoint; the great vowel shift is known to scholars, but is not apparent to anyone else.

But in eastern Europe the results were devastating. A mere look at street signs in eastern countries causes the westerner pain. For example, the Czech (or is it now Bohemian) word for ice cream starts with an obscene number of contiguous consonants (five or seven, my memory has been traumatized by the experience.) And the Russians, in an inept attempt to cover up an almost vowel-less language, have resorted to a pseudo-alphabet unintelligible to westerners.

The Finns, of course, can be omitted from this as they speak no known language.