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Wrinkles Preference or Snobbish? (131* d) RE: Preference or Snobbish? 06 Nov 08


And translating "flowers" (or "floo'ers") as the English word "floors" would make no kind of sense in Jean Elliott's poem. ("There's a great big hole in the forest floor...")

Well I know nothing about a poem, honestly, only a Scots regiments piper's lament.

"Floor" makes sense because, with a few exceptions, english speakers of most British isles dialects (including standard English) "floor" means "ground". When I moved over here [England] I was caught out more than once being told something was on the "floor" which totally baffled me because we were outdoors! As far as I was concerned outside was "ground" and "floors" were exclusivly indoors ;-) The wide variety of ground cover in a forest means it's ground is always refered to in the plural (ie Floors) except when speaking of a single specific place in a forest in which case the singular is permissable.

The Concise Scots Dictionary [ISBN 0-08-028492-2](Aberdeen University press) confirms that "fluer" (with many variant spellings) which have only one vowel or glide/diphthong sound translates as floor whereas "Flooer" (also with many variant spellings) with two distinct vowel sounds translates as flower. In other words when there is only one vowel between the initial and the final consonants (ie FL+VOWEL+R) it's floor, and when there's another vowel between them (ie FL+VOWEL+VOWEL+R)it's Flower. FL-U-R = floor and FL-U-ER = flower. Easy.

I admit it's confusing to the uninitiated because the first vowel sound on both is very close to the "oo" of "cool", and people who's own accent is non-rhotic will meantally insert an extra vowel after it with an R quality, which when heard by a Rhotic speaker the correct R is inserted but the additional vowel is kept because it is assumed the non-rhotic speaker just dropped the R, whereas they actually replaced it. Believe me, when phonemes cross both accent and dialect boundries it's via a minefield.

By the by, the same distiction is made in Ulster-Scots, a very close relative of Lalans, in which I'm fluent (and you can confirm it in the Oxford Concise Ulster Dictionary [ISBN 0-19-860059-3](Oxford University Press). Although like the General American I grew up with Ulster-Scots has the ground/floor difference. Go Figure.

The Piper's tune, a military lament usually played at a funeral or graveside (which makes sense in the Eric Bogle example) has only a single vowel sound. People who add a vowel to make it "floo-ers" are mispronouncing it and changing the meaning too.


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