While in Malta with attendees from around 130 countries, we wore headphones a lot, but most of it was in English. Of course there were all sorts of accents. However, the Bahrain accent was the most interesting. This speaker, whom I heard twice, would raise her voice to the level of soprano singer with nearly every "the." She would say for example: We developed THE (long pause) project to improve health outcomes of THE (long pause) inhabitants of our country.
Have any of you ever seen that before? I surely hadn't, nor had others. I laud her for speaking English at an international conference as I could never present a paper in another language. On the other hand, I spent most of the time listening for her THEs, and not to the content of her talk.
If I were Mr. Strunk, I'd question that apostrophe, but far be it for me to be a grammar nitpicker.
Bob, I think you'd have to hear this speaker before you'd say that. I have traveled a fair amount (nothing like you have!), and I have never heard anything like that before. Nor had any of my American colleagues.
Sorry iof I was unclear. I was commenting on the use of question intonation for declaratives rather than your more interesting and unusual point.
Still mostly off topic, the most extraordinary English accent that I ever heard was on a trip to New Orleans where the waitress in a restaurant sounded positively bizarre. One minute it was as if she'd been at the helium and the next it was a deep masculine baritone. The rhythm of the words was also random with pauses and emphases in the most unlikely places.
The only comparable accent I ever heard wasn't in English, it was in Korean from the narrator at the DPRK State Symphony Hall where her descriptions of the pieces swooped and dived like a bird - covering at least four or five octaves. That, though, was a performance rather than her normal voice.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
I remember learning in school that the should be pronounced with a schwa sound (thə) unless it's being emphasized, in which case it's pronounced with a long vowel sound (thē). So you would say, "I'm going to thə party tonight," unless it was a special party that you wished to emphasize, then you would say "I'm going to thē party tonight." The stressed thē would often be a little higher in pitch with a slight pause after it.
The same with a. Schwa unstressed but long when stressed for emphasis.
I just read that the should be thē before a vowel sound. I don't remember ever learning that. Perhaps I was sleeping that day. My the before a vowel sound tends to be somewhere in between the two pronunciations.
Yes, I was familiar with thee before a vowel sound. However, I got so wound up about her high-pitched thee, followed by a dramatic pause, that I didn't notice if it was only before a vowel sound. It might have been as once in awhile she'd say the normally.
Bob, the southern accents in the U.S. are really hard to understand, though I haven't heard that particular one. I remember once a man with a southern accent was admiring my family's car and was asking my mother if we "could make a bed out of it." It took ages for us to figure out what he was saying. My mom kept thinking he was asking "if we could make a bet out of it."