Only in York County

Part of the USA Today Network

I ‘mise-well’ post this today

Time for another Yorkism! In the style of pronouncing different ‘differnt’ comes ‘mise-well,’ which is what I call the York County short form of saying “might as well.”

This comes to me from my friend Crystal, source of many Yorkisms.

She was the one who suggested ‘different,’ and I got a great response to that from Melanie P. from Virginia, who writes, “Oh, this is one of my favourite Yorkisms! Hee hee! Mom, Grandma, everyone on my York County side of the family pronounces this word as ‘differnt!’ I even catch myself doing it when I’ve been up there visiting for a few days!”

That also drew a very well-thought reaction from frequent commenter Bill Schmeer. Bill will, undoubtedly, not be a fan of “mise-well,” either, for reasons I understand and which will become clear as you read his note!

“I can’t tell you if I got into radio because I am fascinated with words or if I’m fascinated by words as a result of my radio experience, but words, their origin, meaning, spelling, pronunciation, and usage are one of my passions. it is in my character that every word is made up of one or more syllables and, with some exceptions, every syllable has a right to be pronounced.”

He continues, “Unfortunately, speaking, like walking and writing, are learned experiences. They don’t come ‘natcherly,’ but are learned beginning in infancy from our parents and family members, often putting our own twist on them by the way we hear them and, in turn, try to pronounce them. Older siblings’ nicknames often come from a younger sibling that difficulty learning, understanding, or pronouncing the name. As we mature, we pronounce words, either as we hear and understand them, or through sheer laziness, drop syllables and run words together. Jeet chet? Did you eat yet? Also, quite often, two similar words will become intermingled, until one of the words becomes the word most used. Example: use of the word hone for home, meaning to zero in on or to focus on. ‘The police are honing in on a solution to their radio problems.’ Hone means to restore an edge on a blade by use of a stone or other sharpening device.”

But here’s his main point. “I think the problem with words like differnt, is that we humans like to shorten words. If his name is Harvey, it’s ‘Hey Harve.’ Calvin is Cal, Clifford is Cliff, and so on. It takes less effort to say, ‘differnt’ than it does to say ‘dif-fer-ent,’ but distinct pronunciation is more attractive and better understood by your listener. I knew a man who pronounced supposedly, supposably and significant, sibnificant, among others. Why? It’s probably the way his brain processes what he hears. Sorry for getting so ‘wordy,’ but, as I said, (not ‘like I said,’) they are my passion and proper respect is what I look for. English is not an easy language and we need to know it intimately.”

I admit I very much agree with the idea Bill has here – we owe it to our language to love it, to know and hopefully use in most cases the correct pronunciations, and so on. I’m funny – when I’m speaking in front of a group, I tend to speak more formally and don’t usually drop too many syllables and so on. But when I’m with friends or in a more casual setting, I admit I speak “differnt.” Not because I don’t know better, but because I do know the difference and can adjust.

I do agree, though; the worry comes when someone doesn’t know the correct way to say something. You know, like library. Or supposedly. I am all for York County economy of words, but I’m not in favor of lack of knowledge on the correct way to say things!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.