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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 71

  The colonists remained faithful much longer than the English to various other vowel-sounds that were facing change in the eighteenth century, for example, the long e-sound in heard. Webster says that the custom of rhyming heard with bird instead of with feared came in at the beginning of the Revolution. “To most people in this country,” he adds, “the English pronunciation appears like affectation.” He also argues for rhyming deaf with leaf, and protests against inserting a y-sound before the u in such words as nature. Franklin’s authority stands behind git for get. This pronunciation, according to Menner, 57 was correct in seventeenth century England, and perhaps down to the middle of the next century. So was the use of the Continental i-sound in oblige, making it obleege. It is probable that the colonists clung to these disappearing usages much longer than the English. The latter, according to Webster, were unduly responsive to illogical fashions set by the exquisites of the court and by popular actors. He blames Garrick, in particular, for many extravagant innovations, most of them not followed in the colonies. But Garrick was surely not responsible for the use of a long i-sound in such words as motive, nor for the corruption of mercy to marcy. Webster denounced both of these pronunciations. The second he ascribed somewhat lamely to the fact that the letter r is called ar, and proposed to dispose of it by changing the ar to er.
  As for the consonants, the colonists seem to have resisted valiantly that tendency to slide over them which arose in England after the Restoration. Franklin, in 1768, still retained the sound of l in such words as would and should, a usage not met with in England after the year 1700. In the same way, according to Menner, the w in sword was sounded in America “for some time after Englishmen had abandoned it.” The sensitive ear of Henry James detected an unpleasant r-sound in the speech of Americans, long ago got rid of by the English, so late as 1905; he even charged that it was inserted gratuitously in innocent words. 58 The obvious slurring of the consonants