Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

In which I speak American

Thanks to a linguaphiles entry, I just discovered another part of my accent that’s more American than British: I pronounce “yoghurt” as “yo-gurt” /ˈjəʊgət/ rather than as “yog-urt” /ˈjɒgət/ (first syllable has GOAT rather than LOT).

I wonder whether this is due to American influence (most likely through school), German influence (which also has a long vowel in the first syllable), or both.

And I wonder whether I should make a conscious effort to change, since I am trying to cultivate a British accent (along with British grammar and vocabulary).

98% or so of it is natural, learned from my father; it’s the 2% that have come in from other sources that I occasionally try to un-learn. An example is my switch from “stroller” to “push-chair”; I know this occurred after Amy had already started to speak, since I remember she used to call them [ˈsʊsʊj] (roughly, “soo-sooy”, with FOOT vowels in both syllables) < stroller.

Another example of correcting my speech (that’s not related to US/UK distinctions but to not knowing what the right English word for something was) is the Zuckerrübensirup that Stella and Amy sometimes put on their bread: I’ve been calling it “golden syrup”, but since it’s pretty dark, “treacle” may be more appropriate, according to what I’ve read recently (with “golden syrup” being a subset of “treacle”, but this is dark treacle, so “golden syrup” seems inappropriate). This is something I’ve never really talked about before in English, and “treacle” is a word I heard but for which I have no referent in my mind.

On a related note, some things that seem typically German are things I have an English word for, because they were talked about in English when I was growing up! So I think I have a few English words which are otherwise rather rarely used, because their referents are rare in England.

Specifically, I’m referring to rissole (not sure about the spelling) for Frikadelle and rusk for Zwieback. (But I didn’t have a word for Knäckebrot; I’ve started using crispbread for that, but it’s not a word from my childhood.)

…having looked up rissoles on Wikipedia, it seems that that word usually refers to something completely different. Huh. I wonder how it became our household English word for Frikadelle (a kind of meat patty or meatball, often made with some bread in them in addition to meat and onions).

What would be a better name for them, then? The fact that the title of the Wikipedia article is a Danish loan-word doesn’t help—perhaps there simply is no “good” (non-loaned) English word for them.

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