Concerning the American Language 397
" Oh, come! that is pure Yankee; everybody knows that."
" Yes, it is pure Yankee; that is true. One cannot hear it in America outside of the little corner called New England, which is Yankee land. The English themselves planted it there, two hundred and fifty years ago, and there it remains; it has never spread. But England talks through her nose yet; the Londoner and the backwoods New-Englander pronounce ' know ' and 1 cow ' alike, and then the Briton unconsciously satirizes himself by making fun of the Yankee's pronunciation."
We argued this point at some length; nobody won; but no matter, the fact remains — Englishmen say nao and Mow for " know " and " cow," and that is what the rustic inhabitant of a very small section of America does.
" You conferred your a upon New England, too, and there it remains; it has not traveled out of the narrow limits of those six little States in all these two hundred and fifty years. All England uses it, New England's small population — say four millions — use it, but we have forty-five millions who do not use it. You say 'glahs of wawtah,' so does New England; at least, New England says glahs. America at large flattens the a, and says ' glass of water.' These sounds are pleasanter than yours; you may think they are not right — well, in English they are not right, but in 'American ' they are. You say JIahsk, and bahsket> and jackahss; we say ' flask,' ' basket,' ' jackass '— sounding the a as it is in ' tallow,' ' fallow,' and so on. Up to as late as 1847 Mr. Webster's Dictionary had the impudence to still pronounce ' basket ' bahsket, when he knew that outside of his little New England all America shortened the a and paid no attention to his English broadening of it. However, it called itself an