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Do you pronounce the "r" in Mrs.?

A forum for discussing US dialects (accents).

Do you pronounce the "r" in Mrs.?

Postby Beckee Lyn » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:20 pm

Where I grew up, some folks would pronounce the title of a married woman as "miz-riz" with more or less equal stress. "Are you in Mizriz Smith's class?"

Not everybody did, but some folks. I tried to argue another kid out of her pronunciation, and she pointed out that their was an "r" in Mrs. Of course, it should be pronounced! I just couldn't even argue with that.

I am interested in specific places (cities, parts of states) that people have heard this pronunciation from, say, more than one person. I have a hypothesis, and I want to see how it holds up.
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Postby Huny » Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:38 am

I grew up in southern California and never heard Mrs. pronounced "miz-riz" until I moved to Georgia. I hear it used mostly by (for lack of a better term) more educated people, including one english teacher I had in college. At first I thought she just a hard time pronouncing it the proper way. Then I heard someone else say it the same way. The next time you try arguing it with someone and they point out there is an "r" in the word and one should pronounce it that way, just tell them there are no vowels in the spelling of the word either so why are they pronouncing it with an "I"?(for the sake of argument) The American Heritage Dictionary reads it should be pronounced "mĭs'ĭz". No "R" sound in it.
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Postby sluggo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:39 am

Huny wrote:The next time you try arguing it with someone and they point out there is an "r" in the word and one should pronounce it that way, just tell them there are no vowels in the spelling of the word either so why are they pronouncing it with an "I"?(for the sake of argument) The American Heritage Dictionary reads it should be pronounced "mĭs'ĭz". No "R" sound in it.


Actually there is an R in the original word it's an abbreviation for: etymology: abbreviation of mistress (-Merriam-Webster). Used in just the right circumstance, that could reroute some conversations... :wink:

Beckee Lynn (welcome a-board!), maybe your hypothesis needs to know whether any of the miz-rizzers are aware of that derivation. I've never heard anyone insert the R (without the tress of it), in the South or elsewhere, but 'miz-riz' does come out purty close to the root. Accident, or coincidence?
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Why accents are important.

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:31 am

Here is a wonderful example of how accents (dialects) can impact the dominant dialect (often called the "standard" language). Since Mrs. is the abbreviation of mistress, the correct pronunciation should be "mistress". However, because this word was reduced to missus dialectally, Mrs.--even in the standard dictionaries--now is the abbreviation of "missus", an otherwise nonexistent word.

This is why the rise of yall as a pronoun, not noun phrase, is so interesting. It is spreading across the US and stands a good chance of filling that important gap in English, the absence of a plural pronoun for you.
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Postby Perry » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:26 am

I read the linked article and was interested to note that the apostrophe was conspicuous by its absence. I always thought the yall is written y'all to signify the 'missing' ou.

Also, I would go for writting you'uns instead of yuns, but for a different reason. Two counties over (in Mitchell and Yancy counties) the you of you'ns is fully pronounced.

I suppose that it 'might could be' written either way, until the grammer is completely levelled, I just ain't sure. Or amn't sure, for those that haven't read Ain't Isn't a Four-Letter Word.
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Postby gailr » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:30 pm

Perry wrote: Or amn't sure, for those that haven't read Ain't Isn't a Four-Letter Word.

My grandma R would have said we dasn't [variant of 'do not dare'] use that type of language...
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Postby sluggo » Thu Jun 22, 2006 1:36 am

Hasn't dasn't been invoked some three times today? Bailey, BD and now Gail, of those that I saw...

{edit: oops, AAtime clock says Gail was first :) }

It looks like the Dr. replied to Perry's apostrophic inquiry in another thread -I had wondered what it was answering and more or less asked the same thing. Having read the linked article though, I noticed:

Some time ago, English distinguished between "thou (art)" and "you (are)." "Thou" was second person singular and "you" was second person plural. Somewhere in the shuffle of history that crucial distinction was lost.

-- but were not thou and you also the 'familiar' and 'formal' 2nd person singular, also fallen into disuse after 17th century? Was this then a package deal, losing both singular-familiar and 1st-person-plural distinctions? And why would our four bears have done that, since other Euro languages* did not?

*excepting maybe Swedish?
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Postby Perry » Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:36 am

Another funny thing happened in English. Although thou started its career as the familiar form, its extensive use in many English translations of the Bible has given it the connotation of being the formal form; especially as the King James version uses thou for both possible situations.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Jun 22, 2006 11:12 am

And why would our four bears have done that, since other Euro languages* did not?

I wonder how four bears originated the rest of us. The must have been at it all day long.

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Postby Perry » Thu Jun 22, 2006 11:29 am

They had to grin and bear it.
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Postby Bailey » Thu Jun 22, 2006 12:15 pm

and the rest of us grin and bare it.

I always thought it was fore fathers but yall make it clear it was two pairs of processors. Sometime I wonder if they weren't sibling relationships.

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Postby skinem » Thu Jun 22, 2006 12:35 pm

Those puns are grisly...as is this.
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Postby gailr » Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:03 pm

skinem wrote:Those puns are grisly...as is this.

You mean grizzly, right? Or if they've even been rejected by the four bears, perhaps gristly.

And who were the four bear's forebears?
The precursors to the group that became bears split off into the Amphicyonidae (Bear Dogs) and the Procyonidae (Raccon Family) groups, leaving the Cephalogale group. The Cephalogale group split into the Ursavus group and the group that would soon evolve into the sealions and walruses, some 30 million years ago.
Hmmm, this should greatly reassure those who want nothing to do with monkey's uncles. :D

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Postby Bailey » Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:58 pm

it's all baby can stand that goldi locks the door on all his antecedants. But that was three not fore, what shall we say for fore bears, cinnamon, black,brown, kodiak? these before Papa, Mama, and Santa Maria? oops mixed my sillinesses.

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Postby sluggo » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:56 am

OK all, let's don't polarise the situation..

My revelation on which was which between thou and you came upon reading the Bible in French where God was addressed as "tu" -up to then I'd presumed thou had been the English formal (on the assumption from reading the same in English that if you use the familiar for the Creator, who could rate the formal?).
Perry, wanna be a cub reporter (ursamthing like that) and post some Biblicals where Thou dost do double duty as both formal and familiar?
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