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There is an American English dialect/accent that pronounces words like "heard" and "bird" as "hu-yd" and "bu-yd". One example of this would be CCR's song "I Heard it Through the Grapevine". Another is LaMonica Garrett's character in the series "1883". It's fairly subtle, but still distinctive and although I've often heard it, I can't place it geographically.

Can anyone help identify it?

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    It's a little hard to understand what sound you're trying to represent with "hu-eed". Can you think of a word that rhymes with "hu-eed"? When I listen the the Credence version of I Heard It Through the Grape Vine, I hear the same "oy" (if you're into IPA: /ɔɪ/) vowel sound you'd expect to hear in "choice" or "coil". Is that what you're hearing?
    – Juhasz
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:30
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    Creedence Clearwater Revival sings in a Southern/New Orleans accent. But they're actually from the SF Bay area, so I don't know how authentic it is. See this question. And LaMonica Garrett is also from the SF Bay area, but he also may be speaking with a different accent for the series. People from the San Francisco area generally pronounce bird the same way that most Americans do. Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:41
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    @Juhasz yes, that's what I was going for. Sorry for the poor explanation.
    – zenzic
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:54
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    If a question needs to be updated, please edit the question itself, besides communicating through comments. Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 19:20
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    The sound that you describe in your, now edited post, is still not correct, IMHO. I would read/pronounce "bu-yd" as "boo-id", rather than "boid", or "boyd", which would be better - I only finally understood what sound you meant after reading Juhasz's comment. This issue, the sound that you are trying to describe, illustrates the need to use the phonetic alphabet (IPA), in order to be clear as to what you mean. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 15:16

3 Answers 3

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Short answer: Brooklyn English and New Orleans English.

Longer answer: at present, virtually no still-spoken varieties of American English feature this merger, but in the past, it was common in some accents in New York (stereotypically in Brooklynese) and in New Orleans English.

What we hear in Creedence Clearwater Revival's version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine is called the curl-coil merger.

Here's some of what the Wikipedia article has to say about this merger:

In some cases, particularly in New York City, the NURSE sound gliding from a schwa upwards even led to a phonemic merger of the vowel classes associated with the General American phonemes /ɔɪ/ as in CHOICE with the /ɜr/ of NURSE; thus, words like coil and curl, as well as voice and verse, were homophones...The merger is responsible for the "Brooklynese" stereotypes of bird sounding like boid and thirty-third sounding like toity-toid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhoticity_in_English#Coil%E2%80%93curl_merger

This feature of the Brooklyn accent is, let's say, old-fashioned. According to the same article, virtually no native New Yorkers born after 1950 speak this way. This feature of Brooklynese remains familiar to younger people because of cultural artifacts from the early 20th century, such as The Three Stooges or Bugs Bunny.*

But John Fogerty, the lead singer of CCR, is not singing with a Brooklyn accent. It's more of a New Orleans accent, as would befit the singer of Born on the Bayou.

That same Wikipedia article explains that, although most American Southern accents are "non-rhotic" (they don't pronounce /r/ after a vowel, unless there's another vowel sound after it), they do not feature the coil-curl merger. An exception was the New Orleans accent.

However, as in Brooklyn, this merger is dying out. Old blues and (Black) rock and roll singers that Fogerty admired may have spoken this way, but very few people in New Orleans (or anywhere) speak like this today.


*According to Bugs Bunny's voice actor, Mel Blanc, Bugs actually has a Flatbush accent, which is equal parts Brooklyn and Bronx (https://walkoffame.com/bugs-bunny/).

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    The Brooklyn Hoyd it equates with Toydee toyd street (33rd) and pretty goyls (girls). The R drops also when you see the docta. Then it adds in when you have to say mincher (minchah prayers). Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 19:27
  • Thanks @Juhasz. That makes perfect sense and probably explains where I've heard it as I grew up in southern Mississippi. I was unable to find anything indicating Thomas (LaMonica Garrett's 1883 character) was from New Orleans, but perhaps that's what he was going for. And you're absolutely right. I'd forgotten but Bugs did it too, as in "Albuquerque".
    – zenzic
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 19:34
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    In all cases, the sound belongs to the slangy or not-highly educated. Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 19:47
  • @YosefBaskin I can imagine mincher amidah (i.e. before the /ɑ/ as an intrusive, linking-r), but do/did you hear people saying mincher in isolation, or mincher prayers?
    – Juhasz
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 19:53
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    I would say that non-rhoticity of most Southern accents is dying out as well. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 21:34
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You asked for the 'geographic region' for the word 'heard' when pronounced to rhyme with void, as in the CCR John Fogerty version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Many answers gave you phonetic explanations. But for the geography, the 'sound' you are hearing is New Orleans. Fogerty modeled many of his themes as well as his lyrics, including pronunciation, after the images and street patois of that famous area. Born on the Bayou, New Orleans, and others. The ties to that city and area are so noticeable that a very frequent question about Fogerty and the boys is, "aren't they from Louisiana?' Quora has an entire post on that subject! https://www.quora.com/How-come-Creedence-Clearwater-Revival-whose-members-are-all-from-California-spills-its-love-to-Louisiana-in-every-other-song.

Hopes this helps.

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  • Thanks Patrick, it does help. Having grown up in the 70s in southern MS, very close to New Orleans, it also explains why the accent was so familiar to me. I just couldn't quite place it. Thanks for the reply.
    – zenzic
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 17:03
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Except for those with rhotacism (inability to roll R), pretty much all American accents pronounce the r sound in what linguists call the "NURSE" set of words (heard,worse,perverted,girl,world,etc) even if the accent is otherwise non-rhotic. The dropping of r in the NURSE set in North American English is really limited to those natives of Brooklyn, New Orleans and Charleton SC that are a minimum of 80 years old.

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    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 7:33

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