Drop that R!

Br’er Rabbit, Marmee. and Eeyore. If you’re reading aloud or just hearing the names in your head, drop that R. These characters from children’s literature hail from the southern U.S., England and New England – all within the R-less zone. Well, don’t feel too sorry for speakers of the so-called R-less English. They still know how to pronounce R’s. Just not after vowels, unless they’re followed by another vowel sound.

So don’t pronounce that R at the end of “Br’er.” It’s “Bruh Rabbit,” like the first syllable of “brother.”

Where did those Little Women get “Marmee,” that fancy-schmancy name for their mother? It’s not so fancy. No relation to Mallarmé or any other Frenchies. Remember, poor Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are R-less. If they were anachronistic enough to have a “cah” they might “pahk it in Hahvid Yahd.” So “Marmee,” like the Spanish “Mami,” is just another spelling of “Mommy.”

And Eeyore? Must be a Cockney donkey. Drops his H’s too — ‘Eey –‘ore! – also spelled “Hee-Haw!”

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