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So that Elmer Fudd thing has a name: rhotacism. From the Greek rho, for R. It broadly describes one kind or another of effed up R, but most commonly substituting W for R.

And then Wikipedia opened its mouth and this came out: Lenition of intervocalic /t/ and /d/ to [d] or [ɾ] is also common in many modern English dialects (e.g. <got a lot of> (phonemically /gotə lotə/) becoming [godə lodə] or [goɾə loɾə]). Contrast is maintained with /ɹ/ because it is never realized as a flap in these dialects of English.

You know, I was following along pretty well that right up to that last bit. Tragically, I was never realized as a flap, either.

Anyway, we were talking a couple of days ago about BBC presenters with rhotacized Rs (about half of them, by my count) and specifically Lucy Worsely. Unlike most of the others, I think a lot of my readers would enjoy her stuff.

Her day job is Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces — Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kew Palace. She’s currently overseeing major renovations worth major coin, so I guess she can’t be as much of a lightweight as she seems. Her television specialty is daily life, costume and customs of historic Britain, mostly (but not exclusively) the aristocracy.

Reader BJM tipped me off in the comments that much BBC content can be found in its entirely on YouTube (at least until the Corporation plays whack-a-mole with individual programs). And, sure enough, quick search turns up shit-tons of Lucy Worsley programs in all their glory.

I think I’ve watched most of those and +1 would recommend.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2013, 11:53 pm

Dammit, Internet, this is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I got about twenty windows open and NOTHING is updating.

What do you think this is, Sunday night?

Comment from pupster
Time: September 19, 2013, 12:25 am

Did you see this, Stoaty?

Ginger Cat vs. Paper Army


Comment from BJM
Time: September 19, 2013, 1:04 am

Ooooo.. to be front paged is indeed an honor.

My fav Lucy is “Food in England” cuz I’m a food nerd and collect old cookery books.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: September 19, 2013, 3:54 am

It’s amazing how they can read those old letters. The script is illegible to my eyes.
I wonder how they’ll go about translating all of those hand-written letters when nobody remembers how to write in cursive any more. Or is that particular tradition only being left to the wayside in the US?

Comment from EZnSF
Time: September 19, 2013, 3:55 am

To cool and great find. I just watched ‘Food in England’. Yeah, I needed more internet things to distract me.

Comment from Tom
Time: September 19, 2013, 8:57 am

“It’s amazing how they can read those old letters.”

Sometimes they can’t, or only with great difficulty. I recently read “The Island at the Center of the World” by Russell Shorto about the founding of New Amsterdam and he dealt with this early on. Apparently, since New Amsterdam was founded by a company and not a country they were made about keeping records for profit and loss. Unfortunately they’re written in an archaic form of Old Dutch script which is almost completely unintelligible to modern Dutch scholars. Long story short, an American who specialized in Old Dutch, and is wondering how the hell he’s ever going to pay the bills with that kind of a skill, pops up at the right time in the right place and now we know the skinny on those old Knickerbocker dudes.

I highly recommend the book by the way. It’s full of cool factoids like: the colors of the flag of New York City are the same as the flag of the Dutch East India Company which founded the place, the stripes are vertical instead of horizontal though.

Comment from P2
Time: September 19, 2013, 9:06 am

Tom & Feynman… Why do you think Shakespeare is so difficult? People never talked like that…no one could read his writing! Billy had horrible penmanship….scribes were just guessing…..

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 19, 2013, 12:27 pm

Her Stoatliness and I often sneak into little local museums when no one is looking (they don’t like wildlife pressing their noses to the glass cases) and I often have real trouble reading even the beautifully contrived penmanship of the 19th Century.

That said, what chance will there be of anything (much) surviving in the next century? I have a ton of material written in Lotus Word Pro, which is already getting inconvenient to read – how long before it’s gone for good?

And what of text messages and emails?

I wouldn’t like to be a 22nd century social historian, that’s for sure.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: September 19, 2013, 1:56 pm

“Welease Wajah.”

That is all.

Comment from LesterIII
Time: September 19, 2013, 1:58 pm


Comment from TwoDogs
Time: September 19, 2013, 2:01 pm

Lucy must have had some speech therapy between “Food in England” and “Fit to Rule”. Her impediment is markedly improved in the latter.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 19, 2013, 2:04 pm

She has, TwoDogs. Her Wikipedia entry says she got speech therapy and lost her trademark barrette.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: September 19, 2013, 4:59 pm

“Rhotacized” Rs? Has that anything to do with Valerie Harper?

I seem to recall Dorothy Parker, in one of her reviews, mentioning a British lady who kept referring to Dottie as “the distinguished Ameddican pwetess, Mrs. Doddothy Wadden.” (Dottie, of course, seized the chance to explain that the lady had clearly gotten Dottie mixed up with the title character of Shaw’s play, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”!)

Comment from BJM
Time: September 19, 2013, 5:25 pm

What annoys me is that many of these “experts” make a big show of putting on gloves to handle ancient vellum documents and/or illustrated books and then breathe all over them in a close up. Twats.

Lucy’s lisp, bob, barrette and coats with big buttons gave her a child-like quality that was quite appealing.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: September 19, 2013, 6:26 pm

So, I’ve watched 3 of the Fit to Rule documentaries and they’re really quite wonderful, despite the reverence they obviously have for their monarchs. I don’t think we (the US) have that kind of reverence for our Presidents, other than the obvious respect based on party affiliation.

Honestly, I didn’t know Lucy’s speech was due to an impediment, I thought it was just a regional accent because it sounds like Monty Python’s Terry Jones accent.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: September 19, 2013, 6:26 pm

I always thought she was kinda’ hawt.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: September 19, 2013, 8:22 pm

Oh wow!! I see lots of viewing pleasure in my future!! Thanks!!!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 19, 2013, 10:48 pm

If you like Lucy’s Food In England, buy the original book, by Dorothy Hartley.

It’s absolutely fascinating!

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: September 20, 2013, 2:41 am

Man, wait’ll ya get to the good ol’ “etacism”.

Comment from Barrette. No, wait, Beretta!
Time: September 20, 2013, 6:06 pm

I have no idea what is more rare… Peawce Mowgan’s AR-15 Shotgun or the one SWeasel inputed above, with twin front beads.

Oh, and Wewease Wodewick!

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