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Them thar - an addendum

Posted by Jacob on June 12, 2005

A "vowel-movement" (oops!) started about 5 or 6 centuries ago in England: many words with -er- began changing to -ar-, you can see this in the speech of certain people in old novels: "marcy me!" for "mercy me!", "varmint" for "vermin", "parfit" for "perfect" etc. 'thar" for "there" seems to be just another example. Some of these new pronunciations have become standard: star < sterr, heart < hert etc. but the "spelling pronunciation" ideology of schoolmarms (you have to pronounce it how it's spelled) has re-converted the pronunciation of many, so now we say "purrfect" etc.