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A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 9:07 am

The past 2 weeks, I have had certain patients reading letters of the chart in my exam room in a way I never pciked up on before.

Before someone accuses me of being racist, I know culture may play a role here. I mean, often times, I can tell if my pts. studied Hebrew or an Asian language at some point if they read the letters backword fluidly  Smile

I can think of 4-5 African American patients lately that pronounced "R" as 'arrrah.' It's not like I have never seen AfroAmer. patients before. But I found it weird that a bunch of pts, all unrelated, all recently, pronounced it the same way. Being that some of them had a bit of a Southern twang, I assumed that perhaps they were from down south.

But then yesterday, I had a white lady who just moved up here from the south and she didn't say the "R" the same way. She just said "Ar"

So is that pronounciation a cultural difference of sorts? Or a new thing? It's just weird that I am only picking up on it right now.

Also, this past year, when I say "better or worse", I have had an increasing number of patients, more the young than the old, say "WORSER". So many people are saying it that I have to ask, is that the product of miseducation? Or some sort of new lingo going around in the form of bad grammer?

just a thought.

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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 9:19 am


"Arrrah" probably comes from trying to pronounce it clearly. It is also a dialect thingy, as you surmised.

"Worser" is just plain bad grammar.

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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:03 am

Odd Mirrordie...I have never in my life heard a Souther person say "arrah" and Im from Western NC. Of course, I dont ever remember anybody saying arrah here in NYC either. Maybe though , since it is a souther trait to clip certain vowel sounds. (Such as the words I and eye sounding different in the South) Oh and the everpresent changing of the short e sound to a short I. (get becomes git, ten becomes tin)
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:04 am

Yeah, I seen people did that before.
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:30 am

Even withing the Southern American dialect of English there are multiple ways of pronouncing things. I would say the Ar thing is a dialectical issue were as the worster hing is just a product of our educational system

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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:32 am

The "arrah" way of pronouncing the letter "r" is more or less confined to African-Americans in the South. As a lifelong Southerner, I have never heard a white person pronounce "r" that way, except when using it to disparage blacks. I admit that I really don't have too much of a Southern accent, in fact, I've had people thinking I was from somewhere out in the Midwest because I really don't sound Southern. That of course is a result of the education system as well. Where I went to middle school and high school at, there were a large number of students and that were not from the South originally, and basically through assimilation, some of us lost our accents.
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:48 am

This is a peculiarity that goes way way back. You will usually find that people who pronounce "are" or "r" as "arrah" will also pronounce "a" as "err" when it's a soft "a"... for example, the name "Elizabeth" would be pronounced "Elizerbeth" or "Another" would be pronounced "Rrrnother". From what I've been told it originated with the much older generations who did not learn to read or write until they were older, if at all. Without visual reinforcement by way of the alphabet it's hard to know what letter goes where with what emphasis. In the case of the a's and r's, they can both sound alike so you basically had a situation where the individual didn't want to guess which letter it was and be wrong, so they merged both, and thus was the "arrah". However, when the emphasis is strong ("Real", "Rough", "Animal", or "Action") there is little guesswork as to what sound is needed... without regard to the alphabet. This quirk morphed into the pronunciation of "arrah" when saying the letter "r". When you hear it today from younger generations it is just a hold over from older generations in the family... I know a college professor who would pronounce "Virginia" as "Virginyer".

It's not an ethnic issue as when an old white man from the south does it it's written off as some sort of redneck twang. And on that note, it's not a southern thing as it is very prevalent in the New England accent albeit in a slightly different form... JFK didn't say dollar, he said dall-lah.

I believe "Worser" is up there with "anyways" as just plain bad grammar.
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 1:03 pm

I know a college professor who would pronounce "Virginia" as "Virginyer".

That's also known as speaking like a hick (I mean that in a nice way, too).

I've never heard arrah. I was going to chalk it up to just southern drawl, but MoPac argues an excellent case.

Actually I used to have an issue with adding -uh (very subtly) to the end of words. Like saying "I hate that worduh." I don't think I do that anymore, but it used to be a bad habit that I just fell into.
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 1:23 pm

it's not a southern thing as it is very prevalent in the New England accent

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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Thu Mar 04, 2004 3:55 pm

I've noticed that from waaaay back when I was working in a hotel that a lot of the black people who would make reservation would say "arrah" when they had an R in their name and were spelling it out. I don't know what region that would fall in though because we took reservations from all over but I've definitely heard that. What is interesting is that in every region there are things people say in certain ways (people of all races.) What is scary though is that it is almost accepted these days to speak poorly. I hear people all the time saying "I don't have no money" or "I went and seen this movie." What really makes my skin crawl is when I hear someone's kid do it. I once heard a man and his son in a store talking and the son was talking about what he was learning in biology class about men and women's bodies and he was using AWFUL english. The father was correcting the facts about biology he had wrong or agreeing with what was right but never once corrected the poor english his son was using.

As far as saying "arrah" I think that is just a way of saying something. People in Boston say "cah" instead of "car" and my grandmother in New Orleans used to say "zinc" instead of "sink." We just pick up what we hear the way we hear it. Think about how people have accents from wherever they come from. I think that's the same type of deal.
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RE: A Cultural, "southern" Thing Or Vogue?

Fri Mar 05, 2004 10:30 am

My current pet peeve is the pronunciation of height. There is no "th" on the end! It's pronounced HYT, not HYTH!
But that was when I ruled the world

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