Thursday, April 29, 2021

don't write or say "er" if you're American

I've ranted about this before, but I'll do it again.

Americans, when pausing and thinking of what to say next, will banish the silence with the filler sound "uh."  In Bonnie England, this same sound is written "er" but still pronounced "uh" because the English don't like final "r"s and generally detest rhotic "r"s (e.g., the "r" in "car" when it's pronounced the American way, or the "r" in "real," which is pronounced rhotically on both sides of the pond, except by those with speech impediments).  Because Americans read English literature as part of their education, they've encountered "er" in written form.  The mistake many Yanks make, though, is in thinking that the English "er" is pronounced like the "ur" in the American pronunciation of "fur."  

It is not.

So Americans who say "er" the American way, i.e., with a rhotic "r," have completely misunderstood the utterance in its British form.  This also goes for Americans who, in an American context, write "er" as dialogue in a story set in the States.

Stop that shit.  Stop it now.

I am, of course, too late in giving this warning.  The rhotic "er" sound has been embraced by millions of clueless Americans who think saying "errrrr" instead of "uh" is properly American.  These people are all traitors to their country and should be fucking shot.

Now, if you're an American author writing a story that involves English characters and is set in England, then by all means, write the filler "er" to your shriveled little heart's content.  

Otherwise, NO. 


1 comment:

John Mac said...

Yikes! Another linguistic crime I had no idea I was committing. I don't do it often, but I know I have...usually in the context of a pause after sarcasm or a pun. Never gave it a thought and actually had no knowledge of its British origins.

I hope "eh" and "um" can serve as appropriate substitutes.