Thursday, January 27, 2005

Barry, Berry, Bury

How do you say these three words: Barry, berry, bury? Depends on where you're from, apparently.


When daughter #1 was younger, we couldn't really get her to hear and repeat what to us was the very clear difference between Barry and berry. When she tried to repeat what she was hearing from us, she emphasized the "ah" sound in Barry to such an extent that it became comedic.


This mirrors the difficulty that Americans have with the way that Canadians pronounce house and about. They hear and repeat it as hoose and aboot, which of course isn't how we say it at all. And I'll swear that I hear Americans saying that they're going to church to worship Gad.

According to a little reading that I am doing about Canadian English, this is normal. Apparently, most older Canadians such as myself, tend to pronounce berry and bury as homophones, but we pronounce Barry differently. Younger Canadians tend to pronounce all three the same way — the way most English-speakers pronounce berry.


It all depends on your age and location. If you're a Brit, you probably have a distinct pronunciation for each of the three words. Many, but not all, Americans do the same.


That's quite a difference really: from younger Canucks using a single pronunciation to most Brits and Yanks using three.


 

3 comments:

timx said...

Berry and Bury have identical pronunciation in England, but Barry is entirely different - probably the way your daughter pronounced it! As far as I know, Canadians say 'hose' and 'abote'! Americans worship 'Gard'. Canadians pronounce Buoy as 'booey', while Brits pronounce it 'boy'.

Anvilcloud said...

I tend to pronounce 'buoy' as 'boy' although I am familiar with the other pronunciation as well.

Marykay said...

My husband was born in Canada to a Canadian father and a British mother. They all moved to the US (Florida) when my husband was 7. Can you imagine how bizarre this family's pronunciation and word usage could be? Eh?