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View Diary: Phenomena of Language: The Great English Vowel Shift (141 comments)

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  •  Is this history also shared by "rather"? (1+ / 0-)
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    I've noticed that certain people (like John McCain) pronounce it such that it rhymes with "father" while most other people pronounce so that it rhymes with "lather."

    So you think you can love me and leave me to die?

    by unspeakable on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 01:05:36 PM PST

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    •  Yes, it is (3+ / 0-)
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      mayim, unspeakable, budr

      The same early 17th-century phoneticians who mark the a in "father" long also mark it long in "rather".  By the beginning of the 19th century its pronunciation was already in doubt; there were even some people who pronounced it to rhyme with "bather" (i.e., one who bathes).  In southern England it still seems to be common to pronounce it to rhyme with "father", but in America I think the "lather" rhyme is the most common.  This is just a case where different dialects have produced different pronunciations, and no one of these dialects has sufficient prestige to establish itself as the unquestioned standard.

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