PRONUNCIATION AND POWER (Adventures in Language: Sixth Journey)

I’ve never felt as strongly about the local pronunciation of Appalachia as Sharyn McCrumb, the great Appalachian novelist who traces her ancestry (early 1790s) to almost exactly the date I do, expresses here…

…But, having been corrected more than a time or two myself, I understand where she’s coming from. Having a quarter-millennia’s worth of forebears who might have taught you a thing or two cuts no ice with those (all good people) who long to “correct” you.

I’ve never argued with anyone about it. No sense in that. Everyone knows what they know and everyone knows that what they know is right.

“My people were the ones who named the place, they oughta know how to pronounce it!” is of no value whatsoever.

It might be the principal reason that, when we’re forced to choose, we all run back the tribes. Because, deep down, we all know the better world waiting won’t be found here, no matter how many times we’re promised that, if we just vote the right way a few more times, we won’t be forced to choose because, pretty soon, well all get along….or else….

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