Created By: BlueIceTea on October 13, 2012 Last Edited By: BlueIceTea on December 30, 2012
Troped

Trivia/Accent Depundent

A pun, rhyme, or other form of wordplay that works in some varieties of English but not in others.

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It's been said that Britain and America are two countries Separated by a Common Language. These days, that might truly be said of the entire anglosphere. Despite the homogenising effects of mass media, different English-speakers continue to speak English differently. Some of the differences are:

  1. Pronunciation - Does "caught" sound like "court" or "cot"?[[hottip:*:A: "Court" in England and Australia; "cot" in the United States and Canada.]]
  2. Vocabulary - Are "chips" thin crunchy things you eat with dip, or long chewy things you eat with vinegar?[[hottip:*:A: The former in America; the latter in Britain; both in Australia.]]
  3. Spelling - Can "storey", as in "floor", be spelled the same as "story", as in "tale"?[[hottip:*:A: Yes in the United States; no everywhere else.]]

One of the consequences of this is that wordplay may not always work as well for one English-speaker as it does for another. Words that sound the same in London may sound very different in Bristol. Words that rhyme in England may not do so in Scotland. And a commonplace word in the United Kingdom may not even exist in the United States.

This page is for puns, rhymes, and other forms of wordplay that work in some varieties of a language, but not in others. These typically involve forms of English spoken in different countries, but may also be accounted for by regional or class differences within a country. Moreover, English is not the only language with diverse forms: Qébécois sounds very different from Parisian French, and Spaniards do not speak Spanish the same way Mexicans do. In order to belong here, all that's necessary is for a play on words to be comprehensible to one group of people who speak a language, and incomprehensible (or, at least, less obvious), to another group of people who speak the same language.

Thanks to books, movies, and jet planes, most of us have some idea of how English is spoken in different parts of the world. If you're looking for more information, check out this page for a concise break-down of the pronunciation differences between some of the major English accents. See also the American Accents, Australian Accent, British Accents, and Canadian Accents pages.

Examples are listed by country of origin.


Examples:

English English

[[foldercontrol]] [[folder:Jokes]]
  • Knock-knock, Who's there?, Adam, Adam who?, Adam holds water. Meaning 'a dam'. The name usually pronounced 'Ad-am', some people from the West-Midlands pronounce it 'A-dam'.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Alice in Wonderland, the Mock Turtle's line, "We called him 'Tortoise' because he taught us!" makes a lot more sense when said with an English accent than with an American one.
  • In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Haroun meets the "Plentimaw" fish, who have plenty of maws, i.e. mouths. This is a play on the saying "There are plenty more fish in the sea," but only works in non-rhotic varieties of English, where "maw" is a homophone for "more".
  • Discworld:
    • Apparently "dark" and "clerk" rhyme in British English. American readers, however, will likely be baffled.
    • In Equal Rites, the Unseen Accademy refuses to accept female students, arguing that it would be "against the lore". "Lore" and "law" sound identical in RP.
  • It's far from obvious to many Americans that Eeyore was named after the sound a donkey makes (eee-aww = hee-haw).
  • Rita Skeeter is a lot more fun to say in non-rhotic varieties of English (in which the two words rhyme) than in rhotic accents (in which they don't).
  • This exchange from the P. G. Wodehouse novel Uneasy Money.
    ". . . I wish I could remember his name. I had it about a dozen times tonight. It's something with a window in it."
    "A window?" Nutty's brain was a little fatigued and he felt himself unequal to grasping this. "How do you mean, a window?"
    "No, not a window--a door! I knew it was something about a house. I know now, his name's Lord Dawlish."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
  • Robert Plant of of the British group Led Zeppelin was baffled when Americans failed to recognize the song "D'Yer Mak'er" as a reference to Jamaica.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
  • If an American had sung "Do-Re-Mi", they might not have thought that "Fa" was such a long long way to run, but could have noted that "La" is something a lawyer practises.
  • The opening number of Jesus Christ Superstar rhymes "Fire" with "Messiah", which only works if you're Epic Rocking. "FI-yah!"
  • Invoked in the song "Show Me" from My Fair Lady, where one of the couplets ("Haven't your arms Hungered for mine?/Please don't explain, Show me!") only rhymes if Eliza briefly slips back into her Cockney accent (where "explain" is pronounced "expl'ine")
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • This exchange from the Wallace & Gromit film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which depends on the character's Oop North accents.
    Wallace: [on phone] Just stay right where you are, Your Ladyship, and we'll be with you in an... [gets yanked upstairs] Aaahhh!
    Lady Tottington: In an hour?[[hottip:*:pronounced "awr"]] But I can't wait an hour.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
  • Most Americans didn't get that Arthur Christmas was supposed to be a pun on "Father Christmas", partly because the words don't rhyme in American English, and partly because most Americans are used to saying "Santa Claus".
  • The name of Shaun the Sheep is much funnier in the correct accent (Shorn the Sheep).
[[/folder]]

Scottish English
  • A wee boy goes into a cake shop and points in the window and says "Is that a cake or a meringue?" "No, you're right" says the baker "It's a cake."
  • Q: What should you do if you find a trumpet growing in your garden? A: Root it oot.
  • An American is in a pub in Scotland chatting to some of the locals and the topic of hunting comes up. The American boasts about having shot a moose, at which point the guy he's talking to looks at him like he's mad and says, "You shot a mouse? You don't shoot a mouse, you'd blast a hole in the floor." (variants include "You don't shoot a mouse, you stamp on a mouse" and "You don't shoot a mouse, you set a trap for a mouse.")

Irish English
  • An Irish mother is teaching her son her recipe for bean soup. She tells him to add exactly 239 beans. He asks her why. "Because if you add just one more bean, it'll be too farty."
  • An African-American guy is walking down the street and asks an Irish fella how much further he must go to get to O'Reilly's Pub. He answers "You're a block past it!". Cue one punch in the nose.

North American English

[[foldercontrol]] [[folder:Film]]
  • The Cowardly Lion's assertion that Courage "puts the ape in apricot" only works if you pronounce it "APE-ri-cot".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Jokes]]
  • The Realtor took the Southern Belle to see a house. Before they went inside he spoke at length about the many amenities the house had. He mentioned the central heating/air conditioning that had just been installed. He boasted about the professional quality kitchen. He went on about the huge closets, vaulted ceilings, and the built-in sauna and hot-tub. "Why," he said proudly, "This house hasn't a flaw!" "It hasn't a flaw?" The Belle drawled. "Well then what do y'all walk awn?"
  • A southen belle, having moved to a big city in the north, visits a stationary store and asks for some rotten pepper. The owner tells her that he doesn't carry that sort of thing and directs her to the nearest grocery store. She thanks him and is about to leave; but then he asks, "If you don't mind the question, why do you specifically want rotten pepper?" "To raght home on."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Tolkien, one of Sam's immediate ancestors is "Halfast Gamgee". American commentators suggested this was a pun drawing attention to the character being a little bit of a Forrest Gump to his Shire neighbours. British readers went "huh?" as they couldn't see it. "Halfast. Half-Assed - see?" said the American fans, helpfully. not realising we don't have quite the same pronunciation in British English, and nor would JRR. But a good try, nontheless!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Your Mileage May Vary on whether Dolores rhymes with a part of the female anatomy, or anything else.
  • The Daily Show's Most Immature Montage Ever revolves around the fact that in American English, the word "caulk" (as in, the stuff you use to seal up cracks in your walls) sounds exactly like the word "cock" (as in... you know). The montage probably seems doubly immature in other Englsh-speaking countries, where "caulk" doesn't sound at all like "cock", and may, in fact, be a homophone for "cork".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
  • The last line in the alphabet song rhymes better if you pronounce Z "Zee", as the Americans do, instead of "Zed", as Canadians and most Europeans do.
  • Joanna Newsom has a song called '81 (referencing a year from a recent century), but when spoken in the song itself, the lyrics book says "A.D. 1". This pun only works in American English, since in British English, the "duh" and "tuh" sounds would be completely distinct.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • To a British person, it's not obvious that the name of the game Bananagrams is a pun on "anagrams".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • VeggieTales
    • The episode entitled "The Grapes of Wrath" features a family of very angry grapes. At the end of the episode, they decide to forswear their choleric ways and turn to academic pursuits, renaming themselves the Grapes of Math. The rhyme is a stretch in varieties of English where "wrath" rhymes with "moth", and completely fails in the U.K. where the appropriate word is "maths".
    • Another episode is called "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's"[[hottip:*:As in "Ha-ha-ha!"]]. "Ha's" and "Oz" rhyme in standard American English, but would make a queer pairing most everywhere else.
[[/folder]]

New Zealander English
  • In the audio commentary to The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson jokes that orcs should not be confused with people from Auckland. Cue head-scratching from North American viewers and groans from most others.

Other
  • Most "Uranus" jokes don't make much sense if you pronounce the word "YOU-ran-us".
  • A joke that works best in a non-rhotic accent:
    Q: What do you call a deer with no eyes.
    A: No idea.[[hottip:*:No-eye deer.]]
  • Robots and Empire has one about accents of different planets:
    "That is a non sequitur."
    "A what?" She could make nothing of the last sound at all.
    "It has not connection with my question."
    "A non sequitur, you mean. You said 'a nonsense quitter'."
    D.G. smiled. "Very well. Let's quit the nonsense."

Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • October 13, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Lost In Translation already includes "Puns, figurative speech, connotations and cultural references".
  • October 13, 2012
    Duncan
    Most Americans didn't get that Arthur Christmas was supposed to be a pun on "Father Christmas".
  • October 13, 2012
    Duncan
    Oh, also the opening number of Jesus Christ Superstar rhymes "Fire" with "Messiah", which only works if you're Epic Rocking. "FI-yah!"
  • October 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Apparently dark and clerk rhyme in British English. American readers, however, will likely be baffled.
    • There's a joke about two tourists asking a Belgian if the correct pronounciation of Walloon is "walloon" or "valloon". He says "Valloon", the tourists thank him, and he replies "You're velcome".
    • An equivalent exists for French and Quebecois or French and Belgian, where many sounds are differently accented.
  • October 13, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    As a British person, I didn't understand that the name of the game Bananagrams was a pun on the name "anagrams".
  • October 13, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    Okay, response positive so far. :) I'll write a better description when I get the time.

    I don't think this is covered by Lost In Translation, because nothing is being translated, just imported from one part of the anglosphere to another.

    I'm not including the Walloon example because that should make an equal amount of sense to all English-speakers.

    Yes, you could say that this trope also applies to different varieties of French or, indeed, almost any language on the planet. I may put a note to that effect in the description, but it's not an example.
  • October 14, 2012
    AgProv
    In Tolkien, one of Sam's immediate ancestors is "Halfast Gamgee". American commentators suggested this was a pun drawing attention to the character being a little bit of a Forrest Gump to his Shire neighbours. British readers went "huh?" as they couldn't see it. "Halfast. Half-Assed - see?" said the American fans, helpfully. not realising we don't have quite the same pronunciation in British English, and nor would JRR. But a good try, nontheless!
  • October 14, 2012
    tardigrade
    Douglas Adams described the name of the computer in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy as a "very obvious pun" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Thought_(The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy)#Deep_Thought). But it only works in his accent.
  • October 14, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Just because this is common doesn't really mean it's a trope. :/
  • October 14, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    There's a Veggie Tales episode entitled "The Grapes of Wrath" about a family of very angry grapes. At the end of the episode, they decide to forswear their choleric ways and turn to academic pursuits, renaming themselves the Grapes of Math. The rhyme is a stretch in R.P. and many other varieties of English.

    How? 'wrath' and 'math' rhyme in pretty much every version of English I've heard. Maybe when someone evil yells "FEEL MY WRATH!" it sounds like raaah-th, but not usually. Possibly confused as generally, Brits says 'Maths', not 'Math'.

    To a British person, it's not obvious that the name of the game Bananagrams is a pun on "anagrams".

    Pretty sure we invented that game, and yes, it's obvious that it's meant to be a pun, even if we don't pronounce either banana bah-nah-nah or anagram ar-nah-gram.

    Most "Uranus" jokes don't make much sense if you're used to pronouncing the word "YOU-ran-us".

    In Britain it does, as our syllabic sounds when coming out of our lovely o/e/u sound are much quicker. Also, several Brits pronounce your as 'yuhr', anyway.

    Also, it shouldn't say 'English English', it should be just 'English' or, if you insist on your Yankee ways, 'UK English'.
  • October 14, 2012
    NimmerStill
    The Arthur Christmas example is cultural too, since Americans don't have Father Christmas at all.
  • October 15, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    I don't think this is really a trope myself, to be honest. But I thought maybe it could go under Trivia? Just for Fun? Useful Notes?

    The Deep Thought pun is pretty obvious whatever your accent is, I think. I mean, I'm Canadian, and I got it right away. Or does it work better in Adams's accent?

    I always thought that in R.P., wrath was pronounced "rahth". To be fair, very few people actually speak R.P., but even if it only applies to one accent, it can still qualify. Quick poll for non-North Americans: How do you pronounce the word?

    Part of the reason I put "Uranus" under "Other" was because I wasn't sure how the pronunciation broke down geographically. I gather it's "yuh-RAIN-us" in British English, but I learned it as "YOU-ran-us". Does that mean it's the Canadian pronunciation? North American?

    I'm pretty sure people outside of England speak English too. And it doesn't make sense to me to say "U.K. English", if that means lumping together the varieties spoken in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • October 16, 2012
    TheNinth
    A joke that requires a Scottish accent: A wee boy goes into a cake shop and points in the window and says "Is that a cake or a meringue?" "No, you're right" says the baker "It's a cake."

    ---

    The Realtor took the Southern Belle to see a house. Before they went inside he spoke at length about the many amenities the house had. He mentioned the central heating/air conditioning that had just been installed. He boasted about the professional quality kitchen. He went on about the huge closets, vaulted ceilings, and the built-in sauna and hot-tub. "Why," he said proudly, "This house hasn't a flaw!"

    "It hasn't a flaw?" The Belle drawled. "Well then what do y'all walk awn?"

    ---

    The name of Shaun the Sheep is much funnier in the correct accent (Shorn the Sheep). So is the name of Eeyore the donkey (eee-auh = hee-haw).
  • October 16, 2012
    Weaver
    A possibly relevent joke that requires a fairly broad Scottish accent (or the ability to fake one at least): An American is in a pub in Scotland chatting to some of the locals and the topic of hunting comes up. The American boasts about having shot a moose, at which point the guy he's talking to looks at him like he's mad and says, "You shot a mouse? You don't shoot a mouse, you'd blast a hole in the floor." (varients include "You don't shoot a mouse, you stamp on a mouse" and "You don't shoot a mouse, you set a trap for a mouse.")
  • October 16, 2012
    tardigrade
    As a Scot, I thought I should weigh in with the following joke. Q: What should you do if you find a trumpet growing in your garden? A: Root it oot.
  • October 16, 2012
    BOFH
  • October 16, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^,^^^,^^^^ anything that supposedly requires a Scottish accent will be 'got' by any Brit.

    ^^^^ The first joke, my accent provides that. I'm not Scottish. General British will do, it's only Yanks that separate their words and pronounce the last bit differently. Also, Eeyore was named because that's the sound a donkey makes. There's a back episode from before he could talk where Pooh or whomever asks his name, and he just makes a donkey sound 'Ee-aw'. The second one shouldn't count, either, as it's not accent-dependant but relying on a homophone. Normally 'flaw' and 'floor' sound exactly the same.

    OP, please fix these (and the ones I mentioned above). As in: remove.
  • October 16, 2012
    m8e
    Why limit this to english? This can happen in any language where Separated By A Common Language happens (french, spanish, Portuguese etc). or really any language with dialects.
  • October 16, 2012
    Folamh3
    Accent-DependENT Pun, by the way.
  • October 16, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    An African-American guy is walking down the street and asks an Irish fella how much further he must go to get to O'Reilly's Pub. He answers "You're a block past it!". Cue one punch in the nose.
  • October 16, 2012
    hevendor717
    Yeah, this isn't a trope, but it belongs somewhere like Trivia.

    Joanna Newsom has a song called '81 (referencing a year from a recent century), but when spoken in the song itself, the lyrics book says "A.D. 1". This pun only works in American English, since in British English, the "duh" and "tuh" sounds would be completely distinct.
  • October 17, 2012
    KarjamP
    I think Lost In Translation applies to works translated into different languages, while this one applies to accents to the same language.

    Yeah, I think this could work as trivia.

    • The last line in the english ABC song works better at rhyming if you've pronounce Z as "Zee" like the Americans do instead of "Zed".
  • October 17, 2012
    Kellor
    An Irish mother is teaching her son her recipe for bean soup. She tells him to add exactly 239 beans. He asks her why. "Because if you add just one more bean, it'll be too farty."
  • October 17, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    Love the response! I'm afraid I'm too busy to do any editing right now, but I will add examples and write a description when I get a chance. Keep the jokes coming! ^_^
  • October 17, 2012
    TheNinth
    Anything that requires a Scottish accent will be got by any Brit, but NOT by most North Americans. The accent is required for the joke to work.

    "Flaw" and "Floor" aren't pronounced the same at all. In most parts flaw rhymes with claw. Floor rhymes with Door. The accent is what makes the joke.

    And trust me... in the US, eeyore's name is pronounce EE-oar. Nothing at all like the sound a donkey makes. The joke of his name is totally lost without the accent.

  • October 17, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Flaw, floor, claw, and door all rhyme. Eeyore's name is pronounced the same in America as in Britain, which is the sound a donkey makes. Have you ever heard a donkey? It's like a saying a cat goes 'meow', a donkey goes 'eeyore'.

    I was against specifically Scottish on those; also, I sent them to my AMERICAN cousins in Illinois. Just reading them, they got them. So there.
  • October 17, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ The sound a donkey makes is typically rendered as "hee-haw" or something similar. There is no terminal 'r' sound, and few if any Americans would recognize "Eeyore" as a reference to that sound. In fact, after I realized that "Eeyore" was supposed to be onomatopoeia, I've mentioned it to many friends, and not one had realized that, despite the fact that Pooh is widely known here. (And no, most Americans have probably not heard an actual donkey.)

    (As for your idea about what rhymes--you're simply wrong. Those particular words may rhyme in your idiolect, but I assure you that they don't in mine. On the other hand, I do have the "caught-cot" merge, and can't distinguish those two words no matter how hard I try.)

    I saw an example in Pratchett recently, also based on his non-rhotic accent. I'll try to track it down.

    eta: Oh, while I'm at it:

    • Robert Plant of of the British group Led Zeppelin was baffled when Americans failed to recognize the song "D'Yer Mak'er" as a reference to a large Caribbean island.
  • October 18, 2012
    tardigrade
    ^ Re: D'Yer Mak'er, I think this would be equally obscure to Brits, were it not the punchline for an old joke. That is, knowing the joke is probably more crucial than having the right accent.
  • October 18, 2012
    TheNinth
    norsicnumber2nd -- your cousins are obviously more familiar with non American accents than a lot of people. I've had to explain the "meringue" one more times than I care to remember. "Ahm a wrang" means nothing to most Yanks.

    Eeyore's name is so not pronounced the same in America. "ee-yaw" versus "EEE-oar"? Different emphasis. Different vowel sounds. Different consonants! Just check any of the Disney clips.
  • October 18, 2012
    Alynnidalar
    norsicnumber2nd, let me affirm that in Midwestern American English, flaw and floor sound nothing alike. Floor has a terminal "r"; flaw does not. In British English and some varieties of American English (such as the strong Southern accent referenced in the joke), terminal r's tend to be dropped, but in standard American English, we pronounce them.

    If you want to get all technical about linguistics, this is because most English speakers have a non-rhotic accent, whereas in the US, only older Southern accents, the Bostonian accent, and AAVE are non-rhotic. Everyone else is rhotic (pronounces terminal r's).
  • October 18, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ If we're going to get technical, only some varieties of "British English" are non-rhotic, although RP is a significant example, and the word "many" might be appropriate. Also, in many varieties of AmE, "flaw" and "floor" have noticeably different vowel sounds in addition to the terminal 'r'.

    ^^^ I suspect that Plant thought the obvious reggae beat would be a big clue, and while he may not have expected everyone to get it, I think he was amazed that Americans had trouble with the concept even after it was explained. (And of course, the joke you refer to doesn't work in most varieties of AmE.)

    I hope we don't have to break out the IPA to make this page work. Frankly, I much prefer spending my time with another type of IPA! :)
  • October 18, 2012
    ImaHugeMoron
    It should be named Accent Depundant Pun.
  • October 19, 2012
    tardigrade
    Re: "wrath" -- in the US, it is pronounced "rath" and in the UK it is pronounced "roth". Within the UK, you will hear people pronounce it "rath", but this owes to the influence of US media and the fact that it is not a commonly used word and so goes uncorrected. To be clear, I'm a Scot, so this isn't a RP thing. I pronounce "bath" as "bahth", whereas in the home counties it would be more like "buhth". But I say "roth", because that is how the word is properly pronounced.

    Oh, and "math" is a disgrace. It's obviously "maths", just as "statistics" gets shortened to "stats", not "stat".
  • October 19, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ "wrath" is probably a victim of the Great Vowel Shift. A lot of American pronunciations are actually more-or-less the traditional British ones that have been, sadly, lost in the language's homeland. This is usually the case when the American pronunciation is a closer match for the spelling, as in this case. Shakespeare's own accent was probably as close to a modern American accent as to a modern British one, though probably not all that close to either. But he was almost certainly rhotic.

    When a Brit makes fun of American accents, I usually make a snarky remark about people who don't even know how to pronounce 'r', but since you're a Scot, I can't do that, so I have to stick to facts. :)

    Anyway, /derail.
  • October 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^The vowel in "wrath" isn't part of the core GVS, which only affected the (formerly) long vowels. But it has shifted over the years as well. It should really be the same vowel in "bat" and "bag" etc, but the following consonant sometimes has an effect.

    ^^It's "math" and "stat". "Maths" is just a masochist's way of stringing needless consonants together. It's not like the thing is really plural anyway.
  • October 19, 2012
    Omeganian
    Robots And Empire has one about accents of different planets:

    "That is a non sequitur."

    "A what?" She could make nothing of the last sound at all.

    "It has not connection with my question."

    "A non sequitur, you mean. You said "a nonsense quitter"."

    D.G. smiled. "Very well. Let's quit the nonsense."
  • October 19, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Harry Potter's Rita Skeeter: It rhymes in both non-rhotic and rhotic dialects as non-rhotic would be 'Ree-ta Skee-ta' and rhotic 'Ree-ter Skee-ter'. Honestly.
  • October 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^^I'd have to hear it, but: what accent adds extra n's and s's in the middle of words? It sounds more like a simple misunderstanding.
  • October 19, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^^ It's 'maths' and 'stats' - a statistic, though, is 'stat'. I mean, when short for 'Britons', you say 'Brits', not 'Brit' (as it's singular and short for 'Briton'). 'Mathematics' and 'statistics' being plural obviously means that shortening them is 'maths' and 'stats'.

    To be fair, though, where I'm from (Yorkshire) we find that it's easier to say 'math', but will start the next word with the plural 'hs' sound (the words merge together so you can't tell the difference, anyway).

    Maths IS plural as it's short for MATHEMATICS - a core Sciences subject. It should really be sciences (plu) also, but even we Brits conceded many years ago (when segregation was still rife in America, if not decades before) that it's just awkward.
  • October 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^"Mathematics is difficult." "Statistics is difficult." Not "*Mathematics are difficult" or "*Statistics are difficult", at least not in American English. So, singular. Same with "Math is difficult", "Stat is difficult". And I've never heard "sciences" in the US unless you are emphasizing the different branches of science, as in "She's a master of several sciences: biology, chemistry, and physics". (By the way, "physics" is also singular.)

    There is a plural use of "statistics", which has a singular "statistic", meaning a single piece of data, but the general subject "statistics" is singular.
  • October 19, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^^ I don't get it.

    @tardigrade - nope, re: D'yer mak'er: I showed this to my friends. SHOWED it. These were from Lancashire, and read it. They'd never heard whatever joke you're on about and neither have I. They do know how I talk, though, and that it does, in a Northern accent at least, sound like that large island.

    Anyone on about Eeyore: you seem to be mistaken. Here we pronounce it 'ee-aw', which sounds exactly the same as the Yank 'EEE-oar'. And, trust me, donkeys make the noise (at least in the same way a cat goes 'meow' and a horse 'neigh').

    @Xtifr - caught is pronounced 'court' (or close enough, more like 'cawt', which has a long vowel sound) and cot as its spelt, with a short vowel sound.
  • October 19, 2012
    TheNinth
    ee-aw sounds nothing like EE-oar. Or maybe more correctly EE-youre. ee-aw has emphasis the same on both parts and is softer, with the two syllables almost blending together. The other has more stress on the EE part and has a clear definition of syllables, making it almost two words. EE. Youre. Honestly, I was over ten years old before I realized his name was supposed to be onomotopoeic.
  • October 19, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^ At least in Britain there's no 'y' sound. 'aw' sounds just like 'oar' and 'or'. ee- aw / ee-oar / ee-or are all exactly the same!

    Anyway, your version of saying it EE-your sounds more like the donkey noise than our way.
  • October 19, 2012
    Xtifr
    norsicmusicnumber2nd, you keep asserting how I pronounce things, and your assertions are completely incorrect! You say court "is pronounced" as if there were only one pronunciation. I assure you that many Americans (including me) pronounce it identically to cot. Attempting to "correct" it is pointless, because we are correct, for our accent!

    Your inability to understand how an 'r' is pronounced is also irritating. We do not add an 'r' sound to the end of "Rita", so it does not rhyme with "skeeter" (or "meter", for a better known example). I assume you can distinguish "Rita" from "Ita"? If so, try saying "Eeyore Rita", and then drop the "ita", and you will have an approximation of how a Yank says it (except you'll have the vowel sound wrong). I was over fifty before I realized that his name was supposed to be onomatopeia. It does not sound like a donkey sound, and if you think it does in my accent, then you are incorrectly imagining my accent.

    Give it up! You are simply wrong in your understanding of accents that aren't yours.
  • October 20, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    I hope it's clear to everyone here that discussions of the "correct" way to shorten "mathematics" and other such topics are purely academic. It's all very interesting to debate whether it makes more sense to say "math" or "maths", but the only thing relevant to the page itself is that one is standard in Britain and the other in the United States. As long as that's understood, feel free to carry on.

    I'd also like to observe that there seem to be some people here (or maybe just one person -_-; ) who think that everyone in the world speaks English the same way they do. How it's possible to maintain such a belief, given the diversity of accents within the United Kingdom alone, is beyond me. They must just live in a linguistic bubble and/or be extremely unobservant. To those people I say: English does not sound the same everywhere in the world; sooner or later, you're just going to have to accept that. If someone tells you that two words don't rhyme in his accent, you should probably believe him. Why? Because he probably knows a heck of a lot more about how he speaks English than you do.

    To everyone else I say: how about we ignore all silly and ignorant complaints from here on out? All those in favour, show your support by posting about something that's actually helpful.

    @tardigrade, thanks for the explanation about "wrath". Perhaps because the word is so seldom used, I always thought it was "properly" pronounced "rahth" (rhymes with "bath" in R.P.). Then I looked it up in the O.E.D., and it told me the word was actually pronounced "roth" (rhymes with "moth") or "rawth" (rhymes with "fourth"). English pronunciation: not confusing at all. :P
  • October 20, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^ When I say "it's pronounced", I mean the only way I hear it pronounced. Also, with the court thing, I mistook what you were saying over confusion of Brits saying 'court' and 'cot' as one word.

    I did not say you pronounced 'Rita' ree-ter, I said some people with a rhotic accent. I have heard this, down South occasionally.

    The eeyore thing - according to @The Ninth, Yanks include the 'y' when saying it. So I said this out loud, with emphasis on the first syllable and everything, it sounded more like a donkey to me than the way I would usually say eeyore (ee-aw) - and I listen to donkeys - though it can be a matter of opinion and I've been informed this with romanised text and I have no idea how you say it, but I have seen the American Pooh animations (yay! Disney!) and eeyore sounds pretty much like that.

    No, I am not, thank you very much. Cheers for being oh so polite but it appears that some people aren't all that good at explaining themselves, are we? If I've upset or offended or aggravated (or, more likely, annoyed) you in any way, I'm sorry.

    Also, because you added it I hope not for this purpose, you misspelt "metre" - and I must ask, why do all Yanks I've seen use quotation marks when we use (and it looks better to use, in my opinion at least) apostrophes (or 'inverted commas')?

    ^If that middle part's about me, you're wrong. But, sorry if it is. Though I do say "In Britain" or "The way I say it" or something along those lines. If you're not from Britain you should know that yes, there are a lot of different accents, but your accent doesn't affect your dialect, does it? Whichever accent most Brits have (and trust me, I've heard them all) many pronounce words the same (I know of few exceptions, and I have many friends with pretty much every Brit accent imaginable). I'm practically the only person at my school with my accent, and the amount of jokes that come from it as hey, look, words I pronounce differently from them! Also, Northern Irish maths jokes. I'll list some, as it's helpful.

    Oh, however 'wrath' can be pronounced, at least where I live, people pronounce it 'rath', probably from Yank influence as @tardigrade said.

    • In Yorkshire, 1 is pronounced 'wun' (mid-long vowel sound), in Lancashire it's 'won' (short vowel sound). Jokes about winning ensue.
    • Northern Irishfolk say 'power of four' as 'parafar', Tykes say it as "powa'o'fur". There's a joke about golf I can't remember with a Yorkshireman and a Northern Irishman.
    • Knock-knock, Who's there?, Adam, Adam who?, Adam holds water. Meaning 'a dam'. The name usually pronounced 'Ad-am', some people from the West-Midlands pronounce it 'A-dam'.
  • October 20, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    Thanks. We welcome input on how you pronounce words, and how you hear other people pronounce them. Just as long as you accept that people don't always pronounce/hear words the same way you do.

    I've added the "Adam" joke. Could I get specific examples for the other two?

    Oh, and just as a purely academic tangent: I've always wondered, what is the point of having quotation marks in a language if you just use inverted commas anyway?
  • October 20, 2012
    billybobfred
    Probably worth pointing out, non-English languages have accents too, and therefore have accent dependent puns.
  • October 21, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^ We use apostrophes for some things: like in your comment I'd have put "I've added the 'Adam' joke..." and we use quotation marks for, well, quotations as I just did. Americans (I think) generally use apostrophes for both, which I guess we think logically around it and would assume that the word 'Adam' wasn't meant to be between apostrophes but the rest was.

    ^Like between Spain, Latin America, and different regions in Spain. In Spanish, the 'll' is pronounced 'yehy', in Hispanic it's pronounced 'jhey'. Hearing an English-speaker say 'yellow' would cause the Spanish to write out the same spelling as the Hispanics hearing Americans say 'jello'. I have no idea what jello is. I asked if it was like jelly but apparently not. The words 'called' (as in 'I am called') and 'llama' are spelt exactly the same in Spanish (both llama).
  • October 22, 2012
    LancelotG
    • This exchange from the PG Wodehouse novel Uneasy Money.
      ". . . I wish I could remember his name. I had it about a dozen times tonight. It's something with a window in it."
      "A window?" Nutty's brain was a little fatigued and he felt himself unequal to grasping this. "How do you mean, a window?"
      "No, not a window--a door! I knew it was something about a house. I know now, his name's Lord Dawlish."
  • October 25, 2012
    TonyG
    This exchange from the Wallace And Gromit film The Curse Of The Were Rabbit, which depends on the character's Oop North accents.
    Wallace: [on phone] Just stay right where you are, Your Ladyship, and we'll be with you in an... [gets yanked upstairs] Aaahhh!
    Lady Tottington: In an hour?[[hottip:*:pronounced "awr"]] But I can't wait an hour.
  • October 25, 2012
    Dacilriel
    While I can't think of any good examples of it right now, you may want to mention that this can happen even within the same country. A pun that works in Boston may not work in Brooklyn because the accents are very different even though they're both in the US.
  • October 26, 2012
    BlueIceTea
    I thought I had that covered with "...but may also be accounted for by regional or class differences within a country." But I've re-written the "One of the consequences..." paragraph to make it clearer.
  • October 26, 2012
    GuesssWho
    Um . . . the American spelling is meter.
  • November 2, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    Invoked in the song "Show Me" from My Fair Lady, where one of the couplets ("Haven't your arms Hungered for mine?/Please don't explain, Show me!") only rhymes if Eliza briefly slips back into her Cockney accent (where "explain" is pronounced "expl'ine")
  • November 16, 2012
    TonyG
    Never mind. I was wrong on this example, so I deleted it.
  • December 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    A southen belle, having moved to a big city in the north, visits a stationary store and asks for some rotten pepper. The owner tells her that he doesn't carry that sort of thing and directs her to the nearest grocery store. She thanks him and is about to leave; but then he asks, "If you don't mind the question, why do you specifically want rotten pepper?" "To raght home on."
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=wdrlcefobgb7z8lj8045ht4i&trope=TriviaAccentDepundent