Home  »  Volume XVI: American EARLY NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART I  »  § 15. New England: Its laws as Summarized by Lowell

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

V. Dialect Writers

§ 15. New England: Its laws as Summarized by Lowell

This New England dialect which has spread so widely through the West and North-west was summarized by Lowell in the following seven general rules:

1. The genuine Yankee never gives the rough sound to the r when he can help it, and often displays considerable ingenuity in avoiding it even before a vowel.

2. He seldom sounds the final g, a piece of self-denial, if we consider his partiality for nasals. The same of the final d, as han’ and stan’ for hand and stand.

3. The h in such words as while, when, where, he omits altogether.

4. In regard to a, he shows some inconsistency, sometimes giving a close and obscure sound, as hev for have, hendy for handy, ez for as, thet for that, and again giving it the broad sound it has in father, as hânsome for handsome.

5. To the sound ou he prefixes an e (hard to exemplify otherwise than orally).…

6. Au in such words as daughter and slaughter, he pronounces ah.

7. To the dish thus seasoned add a drawl ad libitum.

The New England dialect may perhaps best be studied in such later writers as Rose Terry Cooke, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.