New England Dialect, Isaac Bassett Choate (continued)
It will be observed in these lines, that a has the sound of o, in the word "sat," just as one runs great risk of bearing it sounded in that word any day here in New England. That it should have the same sound in "bank," is strange to us. The nearest approach to this I can recall ever hearing is the word "stamp" as a verb. One would be puzzled at times to make out whether it were to stomp or to stawmp. This last brings to mind our word "swamp," and that suggests "swan," every way the equivalent of bonk. We have never been familiar here with the pronoun "I" under the form 0i, except as it is heard among emigrants of later coming than colonial times. The tendency here has been towards the closer sound, and the chance is that one will hear bile for "boil," and so on. "Day" as dee, and "three" as thray, present a contradiction that sets all law at defiance. No parallel of the first change occurs to me. Of the second there occurs the now rare, but time-honored, pronunciation of "conceit" as consate, and no doubt plenty of other examples can be found. Hew for "who" is ultra New England, — it is Down-East. It is what one notices in the pronouncing of "noon" as newn. Airth, too, for "earth," will be recognized as a relic still to be found this side the ocean. It is to be noticed that "hearth" is
not yet spoken uniformly among our people, and neither harth nor herth gives great offence as yet.
And hay did whistle, and shay did sing,
And all the bells on airth did ring
For joy that the Saviour hay was hawn
On Christmas dee in t' mornin'.
Our dialectic forms are from the eastern counties of England, — the parts out from which came the Pilgrim and the Puritan colonists. To that region we can refer the origin of almost everything peculiar to our speech, but specimens of the home usage will show us how much we lack of a full equipment for conversing with our English cousins. From the fishing-town, Yarmouth, we have the following: "It'll hev tew goo awahy." This would prove scarcely intelligible if used here. Hev for "have" is not common with us. The tendency of the a is in the opposite direction, towards a more open sound, or, perhaps more correctly, towards a broader sound. Tew for "to" is like hew for "who," and will be as easily found in use. Goo for "go" is perhaps never heard here now, but one cannot say with any confidence that goold for "gold" may not yet be authorized by good usage as it was generally used at the time of the settlement of the colonies. Brooch and broach give an example of the continuance of the two sounds in one and the same word.
From the same East England town of Yarmouth we receive the report: "It's coom in good auda." This reminds us of our neglect of the letter r. Auda for "order" passes current in New England as it does in Yarmouth. Our friends of the West laugh at us for our treatment of the letter, and say
-- page 3 --