863. Ethel’s vowel problem


Ethel had a terrible vowel problem. She’d had this problem for years. Ever since she was a kid. Her vowels were a mess. Even specialists were puzzled.

She saw where in England between 1350 and 1700 there was a great vowel shift.

“That’s me!” she said. “The same is happening to me! My vowels are all over the place.”

And indeed that was the case.

It wasn’t until yesterday that Aunt Esmeralda discovered the problem. Ethel was visiting her Aunt Esmeralda and had to rush straight to the bathroom.

“It’s my vowels!” cried Ethel as she rushed past Esmeralda.

“I think,” said Aunt Esmeralda, “you have a problem with your consonants. It seems you’re inconsonant.”

47 thoughts on “863. Ethel’s vowel problem

  1. Cynthia Jobin

    How could you read this without cracking up? Maybe it’s because I’m a worse word-idiot than you are, but this one I DID figure out, way before I got to the end. In fact I suspected where you would be going when I read the title. (It doesn’t help that “v” and “b” are right next to each other on the qwerty keyboard, and often get exchanged….) But you’ve presented it with great wit, and I’m still laughing….

  2. Wendy

    Nothing worse speaking with loose vowels. Enunciation!
    Here in Texas, we just add extra syllables and elongate our vowels. We take our good, sweet, time.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I remember being in the Sonora Desert in Arizona and I asked this couple if they would mind taking my photo. They were from Texas. I couldn’t believe the accent and how drawn out!! I thought I was in a cowboy movie! It was wonderful!

      1. Wendy

        My husband has one of the deepest Texas Drawls I’ve ever heard. We call it “speaking Dave”. I usually have to translate. But….I love it. 😊

      1. Cynthia Jobin

        I was not an “English Major” at university, but my major field of study was French, so I never had the benefit of learning about Old and Middle English. Besides, my relationship with the department of English was less than friendly; their faculty tried to nullify an honor I received—my poem won in a competition for the title of Class Poet. They said I was disqualified because I was a French Major, and not an English Major. There was a whole campus hoo-ha about it, among the faculty, but in the end my poor little poem prevailed as the winner. I had to read it at one of the graduation celebrations and it was entitled “Flight Into Space”. I don’t even think I have a copy of it anymore!…a long way around saying I never studied Beowulf, Chaucer, or the great vowel shift!

        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          😦 That would certainly have taken the edge off winning the prize! In my last year at High School I got the highest marks throughout the year for Essay Writing, but they gave the Essay Gold Medal to the “dux” (the top academic student) because the more medals the better. I never complained and must admit we have been good friends these last 50 years or so – he just retired as the Professor of German at Auckland University. And as an addendum – I never understood what the great vowel shift was!!!!

  3. Keith Channing

    What could be worse than loose vowels? Perhaps only the stereotypical English upper class, whose vowels are/were so tight that they were rarely, if ever, heard. I know what you’re thinking; pffft!

  4. simon682

    Ah, 1350 – 1700 the later dark ages. When not only were we suffering below but were being being annoyed by all the new worlds we were discovering; sort of cross incontinents!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thank you! The first big laugh of the day! That may be the origin of the expression “I don’t give a continental”. (Do you have that expression? or is it antipodean? it sounds Austrawlin).


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