looking for a Brit's view of AE

Kirk   Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:30 am GMT
I also know a family here who spells it "Muller," no umlaut, and pronounces it with /V/ as would be expected with such a spelling in English. There were a lot of Germans that Anglicized their last names upon coming to the US, but I guess it would make sense that where you are, Travis, that many of them weren't Anglicized. Doesn't Wisconsin have one of the highest populations of people of German descent in the US?
Kirk   Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:32 am GMT
And thank you, Rick Johnson, for your response :) I figured it probably had at least something to do with Norse influence in England, it's just I had not come into contact with someone from the UK with such a last name before--something like "Rick Johnson" immediately makes me think of an American.
Sander   Tue Jul 26, 2005 12:33 pm GMT
=>There are quite a large amount of people whose names end in "son" in the UK, as far as I'm aware it decends from the Viking invasions.<=

In a lot of the Northern European countries it's very common for names to end in 'son' or that languages equivalent.So not everyone with a name ending in 'son' has viking ancestors ;)
Trawick   Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:48 pm GMT
"Doesn't Wisconsin have one of the highest populations of people of German descent in the US?"

My dad is from Wisconsin, and the majority of people he went to school with were of German (or Scandinavian) descent.
Travis   Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:45 pm GMT
Yes, around here, a quite significant portion of the population (even though it's now under 50%, and is more like 40% or so, which is still a very large percentage) is of German descent, at least according to recent Census statistics. As for "Müller", which around here at least seems to have most commonly become "Mueller" spelling-wise, the most common pronunciation of such around here appears to be /"mjul@`/ -> ["mju:.5@`], which is at least closer to the original pronunciation than the pronunciation you described, Kirk. I suspect that the use of /ju/ is an attempt to try to convert /Y/ to the closest thing in English phonology, which would be /jU/ or /ju/, which happened to get frozen as such once such names were being used by people who no longer had much if any awareness of the details of German phonology.
Sander   Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:49 pm GMT
So you think 40% is the actual percentage?Hmm,is there a German influence on 'wisconcian' habits,culture?
Travis   Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:45 pm GMT
Actually, I checked, and the figure is 38%, and is from the 2000 census for Milwaukee, WI itself. The question though is that it isn't clear whether that's just self-identification as full or partial, and then if such includes partial, whether it is what someone considers as their *primary* self-identification. This is important because the overall proportion of the population which would fully self-identify would likely go down over time, but the portion which would partially self-identify would likely increase over time, emigration from and immigration to Wisconsin from other parts of the US aside.

As for influence, there apparently is some degree of influence, at least according to someone my mom knows who's from Germany, who I'll just name as Erika here, but one thing Erika mentioned to my mom is that the remainants of such influence are in many ways very outdated by the standards of Germany today. There also seems to be at least some possible influence on the English here, such as the use of the word "yah"/"ja", the use of "by" to mean "at", possibly the use of conditional or subjunctive mood in both parts of conditional statements, and possibly various aspects of overall pronunciation in the area; however, I really do not know enough about the details of such to say much beyond the above.
Bubbler   Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:28 pm GMT
And don't forget our proclivity for imbibing . . . we loves us our beer =) Milwaukee has one of the highest tavern per capita ratios in the country.
Brennus   Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:17 pm GMT
Most Britishers I've met have had no comment on my English or that of Americans in general. Perhaps, the English for the most part are not linguists and don't have what is called a "linguistic ear." A couple of years ago, however, I do remember a British immigrant lady here in Seattle taking a dislike to my pronunciation of 'tomato" (tuh-may-toh) and insisting that I say toh-mah-tow. If that's the case, she definitely wouldn't like the pronunciation in the Baltimore - Washington D.C. area (t'maytta) where my relatives all come from. I read an article once that said that the British were actually not offended by American English and even found it to be rather colorful but I haven't been able to verify it.

Those of you who attribute the -son in English surnames to a Danish or Viking influence in England are probably right for the most part. A few, however, are probably Anglicized forms of Norman French names: e.g. Richardson, Robinson, Robertson; Roberts, Williamson; Wilson from Norman French FitzRichard, RitzRobin, FitzRobert, FitzGuillialme etc. But this may be due to a Norse (or Danish) influence too since Parisian French don't seem to have names that begin with Fils - or Fils de -.
Guest   Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:20 pm GMT
"Linguistic ear" also called a "language ear" which may be better. People who have not interest in languages at all and see it merely as a biological medium of communication are usually lacking this "language ear."
Brennus   Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:33 pm GMT
"Guest" message posted by Brennus too.
Damian in midnight Edinbu   Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:41 pm GMT
If British people such as that lady object to Americans pronouncing "tomato" as they do, then why don't we become logical and change the way we pronounce "potato"? Pot-AH-to to rhyme with tom-AH-to. Sounds weird but at least consistent.

Brit pronunciations: -ato endings.

Tomato = tom-AH-to
Potato = pot-AY-to

AAMOI: The term "Britisher". Is it an exclusively American term? I've never heard of any other nationality referring to us as such - only Americans.
Tom K.   Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:55 pm GMT
I'm an American and I've never heard anyone say "Britisher" before. Maybe it's just an outdated 19th Century term? I think I do remember seeing it in some quote in a history textbook.
Adam   Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:59 pm GMT
What kind of adjective is "Britisher"?
Adam   Fri Jul 29, 2005 12:01 am GMT
I mean, what kind of NOUN is "Britisher"?