Friday, July 11, 2008

Introduction: Hoosier Dialect or Speech

A Little Trivia About the Hoosier Dialect

Indiana has three regions that affect the dialect and/or accent placed on words. Central Indiana's dialect, or pronunciation, is similar, but slightly less of a drawl, to what one may encounter in Southern Indiana. Whereas people who live in or near Chicago have a separate dialect that, to other Hoosiers, faster paced and slightly reminiscent to how someone from New York City would sound to our ears.

Hoosiers tend to swallow, or totally drop, the 'g' sound on words ending with 'ing', such as in traveling. Therefore, to make up for that lack of the 'g' sound the remaining 'in' can take on a 'en' sound as in 'widen'. So the word traveling now is pronounced 'trav-ellen'. They can also loosely combine two words together, such as 'off the', but not necessarily with the intention of saving words in a sentence. 'Off the' could be combined together to become pronounced as 'off-fa' without necessarily eliminating the word "the" from being used. "Get your toys up offa the floor before I'm half-tempted to throw them out."

Hoosiers are often half-tempted when angered and will openly share this morsel of information. "I am half-tempted to walk out of this room unless you shut up." Doesn't necessarily mean the person will leave the room, just that they are a little bit tempted but not fully tempted or convinced yet. Hoosiers are also half-tempted at times when daring another person. "I am half-tempted to see if you can really do that." However, the main clue in that sentence is that they are only half-tempted, which is generally closer to 'actually could care less' thoughts than 'I would really like to know'.

On the other hand, a half-tempted Hoosier can be confusing on if they are half-tempted in a good or bad way. For example, a couple goes out on a first date and the girl is overheard, by her date, saying, "I am half-tempted to go another date with him." This could mean one of two things:

  • "This date is not all that exciting but I might be willing to give the guy a second chance."
  • "I have my eye on someone else already but, if that doesn't work out, this guy won't be a bad second."

Hoosiers are not fast talkers. Then again, they aren't in any special hurry to begin with. Combine this trait in a touch of a southern drawl compounded with dropping of letters in words or certain vowels exchanged then top that with a sprinkling of Midwest, or America's Heartland, phrasings ... well, Hoosiers can sound unique. Somehow Hoosiers can turn a single syllable word, like 'and', and make it almost two syllables due to how they release their tongue when making the "d" sound. Say the word and notice on the 'd' part your tongue goes to the front of the mouth to press slightly then release to make the 'd' sound. Nice and hard sound that Hoosiers can easily lapse into adding a soft 'uh' sound when releasing the tongue.

I think that is enough trivia to share right now. Future articles, based on Central or Southern Indiana primarily, will share more about Hoosier dialect and manner of speaking certain words.

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