Sunday, July 25, 2010

You Say /æ/, I Say /a:/

The abstract of "Indexing Political Persuasion: Variation in the Iraq Vowels," an article in the Spring 2010 issue of American Speech:

To determine whether phonological variables are a potential resource for the expression of political identity, this article examines the second vowel of Iraq. In addition to being part of a politically significant place-name, Iraq is particularly well-suited to index political identity due in part to the ideological association between the "foreign (a)" variable with correctness and educatedness in U.S. English (Boberg 1997). Specifically, Iraq's second vowel appears to index political conservatism when produced as /æ/ and political liberalism when produced as /a:/. Results from an analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives show that Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to use /æ/, even controlling for regional accent.

Within the article, the authors quote a blog commenter who puts it a little more bluntly:

I say ee-raq-ee when I'm talking about the helpless children there. I say Eye-rack-ee when discussing the dead, or soon to be dead, shitheels.

1 comment:

ableak1 said...

Then there's far-right pronunciation where the first syllable is pronounced "aye", as in "I'ma scalp me some Ayerackies!"