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Why is she talking about "baggles"?
September 3, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

In what regional dialect do people pronounce "bagel" as though it were spelled "baggle"?

One of the clerks at a nearby coffee shop here in Seattle talks about serving "baggles", or like "bag-gulls" - a totally flat A-sound instead of the usual soft "ay". I thought she was doing it on purpose to be funny, but it's been months now and she's totally consistent about it. I haven't noticed any other unusual markers in her speech, so I can't tell whether this is an idiosyncratic mispronunciation or just a regional accent I've never encountered before.
posted by Mars Saxman to Writing & Language (76 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
philly.
posted by JPD at 11:13 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe she's a Community fan?
posted by zsazsa at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2012 [20 favorites]


I live in Canada in Ontario, and I can't even figure out how to say "bay-gle". I'm sitting here saying bagle over and over to myself and I'm not able to say it any other way than "bag-gull". I can't really even imagine what the other way would sound like; it's too weird for me. So maybe she's from southwestern Ontario.
posted by windykites at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2012


philly.

I've lived in Philly for a decade and have never heard it pronounced like that.
posted by The Michael The at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hear that a lot here in Minnesota. (Weirdly enough, Minnesotans also pronounce "bag" as "bayg".)
posted by jeudi at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wisconsin/Minnesota, yeah. The only person I've ever heard use that pronunciation on her own is from Wisconsin (and I'm from Philly).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live in Wisconsin (but I did not grow up here) and most of the people say it like bag-gul.
posted by catseatcheese at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2012


Isn't this a classic Boston thing?

A kid at my high school transferred from Boston and was immediately nicknamed "Baggle" because he insisted that was the correct pronunciation.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Southwestern Ontarion who says and only hears "baygle". Just to contrast winykites experience above.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a friend from Ohio that says "baggle."
posted by Frank Grimes at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2012


Philadelphia, though I hear it more as "beggle".
posted by Sara C. at 11:31 AM on September 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


And to contrast Frank Grimes, everyone I know here in Southwestern Ohio pronounces it bay-gul.
posted by cooker girl at 11:32 AM on September 3, 2012


I knew someone from Minnesota who pronounced it "baggle". She honestly couldn't hear the difference.
posted by fishmasta at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2012


Isn't this a classic Boston thing?

Grew up in Boston. Have never heard it said that way.


I think there are any number of things people suppose are congruent with a Boston accent based on the "ah for R" swap that is its most famous feature. The point being that they stick "ah" into words where a Bostonian never would. The classic example is "Bahston," which no one from that city would ever say unless they were pronouncing the word "barston." Similarly, if I heard a friend from back home say "bahgle" I would assume he was saying "bargle."

Apologies for the slight derail :)
posted by slkinsey at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Philly is one place you'll hear this, but it is in only specific parts of the city, and certainly not from just anyone. My father is from Olney, as is his family. I also lived in that area for the first 12 years of my life. My grandmother and grandfather, as well as other people in that neighborhood, would say something like "beggle" for bagel. They would also say "iggles" for "Eagles." You can see more on this in the article on Philadelphia dialect, specifically in the phonemic incidence section.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:37 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm from Boston and would occasionally hear people saying that growing up - in my experience, it was people who had the classic old-school Irish Boston accent.

But it's also pretty much the standard way of saying it in Minnesota.
posted by lunasol at 11:41 AM on September 3, 2012


I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and never heard bag-gul.
posted by umbĂș at 11:41 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've heard a few Wisconsinites say it that way.
posted by drlith at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2012


Not Philly. (But some people keep saying Philly, so maybe certain parts of Philly or certain types of people? Not South Philly.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting re the upper Midwest. I went to college in Wisconsin, and if anything my impression was that people with strong regional accents tended to pronounce the "e" so hard that it almost sounded like "beegle."
posted by slkinsey at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2012


I have a friend from Minneapolis who says "baggle."
posted by ambrosia at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2012


Another vote for Wisconsin and the upper midwest (my GF says baggle).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2012


Yeah, Minnesota/wisconsin.
posted by sideofwry at 11:51 AM on September 3, 2012


Definitely heard this in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
posted by superlibby at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2012


I grew up in Southwestern Ohio, and I knew a few - although not all that many - people who said "baggle." I always thought it was a Michigan thing.
posted by obvious at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2012


One of my childhood friends said baggle (just like in the Community clip). Thing is, she grew up only a mile or two from me and no one else around here says that! In her case, it was just a childhood mispronunciation that stuck all the way through high school.
posted by anaelith at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2012


I'm from Cleveland, and sometimes "baggle" pops out of my mouth, but it's something that seemed wrong while I still lived in Ohio, so I don't think it's a regional thing. I vote possession.
posted by cannibalrobot at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm clearly being outvoted, but I'd describe what Minnesotans say more as 'beggle'.
posted by hoyland at 12:08 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live in Rochester NY and (independently of seemingly everyone else I knew) pronounced it "baggle" until I went to college and my friends started giving me grief over it. I made myself switch over to "bay-gull" and it's been about 20 years now.
posted by Lucinda at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is as interesting as it is confusing: there doesn't seem to be any clear regional trend. Is there really such a thing as a random (mis)pronunciation that many geographically separated people come up with on their own, and stick with despite hearing everyone else use a different pronunciation?

Thiss doesn't seem like the same class of error as people who grow up reading "misled" in books and pronounce it "mizzled" because they've never heard it spoken. Or is that really what's going on, and I am just too familiar with the normal pronunciation of "bagel" to see how it could be read as "baggle"? Because that just doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:17 PM on September 3, 2012


"Bay-gull" is certainly the standard English pronunciation, but the Yiddish word "beygl" (on the iPad, can't do Hebrew characters) has a different vowel in it (two yuds, which isn't exactly the same as /eI/), particularly in the Galitsyaner dialect.

My father-in-law and his brother, who grew up in Brooklyn with Yiddish as their first language (both born in the 1920s) say something closer to "beh-gle" than "bay-gull". So maybe she picked up a different variant pronunciation from a Yiddish-speaking grandparent or employer?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I grew up in Massachusetts, lived in Boston for 10 years and lived in Philadelphia for over 7 years. I am currently in DC, and the first and only time I heard some pronounce bagle, baggle ( if i remember correctly her pronunciation was closer to "beggle") was last year when I was traveling with a colleague from work who is from Wisconsin.
posted by kaybdc at 12:21 PM on September 3, 2012


Isn't this a classic Boston thing?

Grew up in Boston. Have never heard it said that way.


& there's a Boston-local manufacturer/small chain called Finagle a Bagel.

(Finagle also has a long "A".)
posted by endless_forms at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I live in Wisconsin and eat lots of bagels and everyone in Madison pronounces them the same way as we did back home in Maryland.
posted by escabeche at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2012


I also know someone from Seattle who says "baggle". She also says, "meahgazine".

Despite that, I suspect that there is actually a geographic answer in most of the answers you've received, which mention PA, MN, WI, OH, upstate NY: The Northern Cities Vowel Shift.

Remember also that where people's parents are from affect their accents too. I suspect there might be a little geographic bleed from regions directly around the Great Lakes that could explain some of the answers in this thread too. For instance, my friend's parents were from the midwest somewhere, though I don't remember where exactly.
posted by lesli212 at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I vote mid-West, specifically Wisconsin and Minnesota. I was listening to the Elvis Duran morning show on the radio recently and this very topic came up because the new girl, Bethany, pronounces it "baggle". She was thoroughly mocked, then taught to say it the proper way "bay-gull". Bethany is from Wisconsin and went to school in Minnesota.

As a Philly transplant, I've never in my life heard anyone pronounce in "baggle" before I heard Bethany on the radio. If anything, Philly is more "beh-gle".
posted by geeky at 12:33 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This came up recently in the FPP featuring lesli212's link.

From the thread:
I don't know if it's part of the same vowel shift, but some people in Minnesota reverse the vowel sounds in "bag" and "bagel": baig and baggle. Probably other words, too, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.
posted by stopgap at 7:22 AM on August 24


(The "baggle" for bagel thing is far from universal. The one person I know who says that grew up in Winona, Minnesota).
posted by Area Man at 8:42 AM on August 24


In re the baggles vs. bagels pronunciation, I have been told by friends living in Tucson, Ariz., that it is pronounced as the former. Maybe due to the influx of northern midwest snowbirds?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:41 PM on August 24
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:51 PM on September 3, 2012


I'm from Wisconsin and I've always said "bag-gul." But then people started to make fun of me for saying it wrong, so I've been making a conscious effort to change. Every time, I have to think "A sea-gull flies over the sea, a bay-gull..."
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get all my learning from the TV where Jewish comedians speak of bay-guls being concrete doughnuts.
posted by Cranberry at 12:54 PM on September 3, 2012


My first instinct (although, I have worked on 'correcting' it) is Baggle. I'm from the Chicago burbs, with Wisconsonite parents. I also say 'bayg' and 'flayg'
posted by Fig at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2012


This drives me nuts because all my friends make fun of me for it and I never notice a difference in anyone else. I guess I do the "baggle" thing and I'm from the Great Lakes area (Minnesota). But the people who pick on me are mostly from Chicago.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:18 PM on September 3, 2012


Ask your clerk to say "wagon".


I'm with lesli212.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:36 PM on September 3, 2012


I'm from Michigan with one Yooper parent and when I lived a tad farther south for a while my "baggle" pronunciation had attention called to it more than once, so now if I'm feeling particularly concerned with pronouncing it the more accepted way I absolutely have to think of the "What do you call a seagull that lives by the bay? A baygull" joke in order to stand a chance.
posted by zizania at 1:41 PM on September 3, 2012


I always thought this was a Washington (state) thing - I have a couple friends from there who pronounce it "baggle." I sometimes hear Wisconsin/Minnesota pronounciations bleeding into other communities in the PNW (a girl I know from Eureka, CA, for example), so it might be people who emigrate to the coast.
posted by muddgirl at 2:05 PM on September 3, 2012


I spent most of my life in Wisconsin and never heard someone say "baggle." I grew up in south central Wisconsin, so I wonder if it's a northern Wisconsin/Minnesota thing?

Like others have mentioned, I definitely know plenty of folks who pronounce short As (like in bag) as long As (bayg, or sometimes almost two syllables - kind of like "bay-egg" said very quickly). I think my brain would explode if I heard someone ask for a "whole bayg of baggles."
posted by SugarAndSass at 2:09 PM on September 3, 2012


If we're considering regions outside of US, I think Canadians say this. And possibly New Zealanders.
posted by yaymukund at 2:15 PM on September 3, 2012


I always thought this was a Washington (state) thing

I've lived in Seattle since '99 and have only ever, in my life, heard "baggle" from this particular barista. It definitely does not sound local to my ears.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:22 PM on September 3, 2012


Not the whole state, obviously. I don't know where exactly my friends are from.
posted by muddgirl at 2:39 PM on September 3, 2012


Backing up Lucinda - I had a college roommate from Rochester NY who was a baggler.
posted by D.Billy at 2:44 PM on September 3, 2012


Another vote for the upper Midwest. I have a friend who grew up in Madison, WI and Des Moines, IA who says "beggle" - rhymes with "beg" and "gull."
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 2:45 PM on September 3, 2012


Yep, "baggle" is Wisconsin (and "bayg" for bag). It's definitely not universal - I don't say it that way - but among people with heavy Wisconsin accents it's pretty common.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:02 PM on September 3, 2012


yaymukund: If we're considering regions outside of US, I think Canadians say this. And possibly New Zealanders.

I'm Canadian and I pronounce it "bay-gull." I've never heard it pronounced "baggle" here--not in British Columbia, anyway. From windykites' comment, maybe it's different in some places out east.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:06 PM on September 3, 2012


I remember absolutely freaking out the first time I saw the Baggle scene in Community, because pretty much the exact same thing had happened to me in high school (my friends were in absolute hysterics over the fact that I couldn't say bay-gle). I'm not sure why -- pretty much all of us had grown up together in the same 3-block radius of a suburb of Vancouver, BC. I think I picked it up from my parents, who are not native speakers of English (if you don't call a bag a bayg, why would you call a bagel a baygle?)
posted by btfreek at 3:06 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was born in Cincinnati to a Michigan-accented father and a mother who trained herself out of the Cincinnati accent during 3 years in San Francisco. I say "beg-gle," though none of my friends nor relations share that pronunciation. I find it physiologically impossible to produce the (almost unique) nasal "bay" that is necessary for "bagel." I can say "bay-gul" if necessary, but the baeeeaeeeeeaaeeey sound just isn't going to happen.
posted by coppermoss at 3:16 PM on September 3, 2012


Ex-boyfriend from Wisconsin [Milwaukee, parents from Buffalo NY] always pronounced it this way.
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on September 3, 2012


Seattle native here, 4th generation in the PNW -- have never heard anyone say "baggle."
posted by litlnemo at 4:20 PM on September 3, 2012


My family is from Wisconsin (Green Bay area mostly) and Philly (south Phila and just across the river in Jersey suburbs) and I can not remember ever hearing relatives say baggle, and they say shit in really weird and obnoxious ways.
posted by item at 4:37 PM on September 3, 2012


My buddy from Pasco (Eastern Washington state) says it that way. And "melk" for "milk."

Now that I think about it, I hate him.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:45 PM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


We endlessly pick on my husband's cousin (from Nova Scotia) when she talks about baggles. The rest of the family is from Montreal.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:47 PM on September 3, 2012


The only person I know who says it that way is from rural Washington.
posted by threeants at 4:54 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just for data purposes, I'll throw in that I'm from the Deep South, am not from a subculture that talks about bagels very often (bagels are not even typically available where I grew up), and I can't explain how I knew to pronounce it BAY-gle, but I always just knew.

Probably a combination of commercials for Lender's Bagels and various 90's NBC sitcoms set in New York. Then again, if this stuff came from TV, everyone would pronounce it the same way. My guess is that, if you pronounce it "baggle" or "beggle", you probably live in an area where bagels are readily available outside the influence of mass media.

I'm really leaning toward the idea that there are variant pronunciations in Yiddish, and that different Yiddish-speaking populations ended up in different parts of the country and influenced the locals differently.

Interesting that Montrealers also say BAY-gel, since Montreal English should be pretty similar to the "Northern Cities" way of pronouncing it. I've always seen Canadian accents and Upper Midwest accents along a continuum. (Though I guess I could be wrong.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:54 PM on September 3, 2012


Another vote for MN. I am from Atlanta and now live in Minneapolis, and have lived in many other states. Have only ever heard it pronounced bag-gull here. (And the only folks I hear say bay-gul are out of towners...)
posted by Betty's Table at 5:00 PM on September 3, 2012


This thread is dredging up memories of being teased by my family for saying baggle when they all said bay-gle. I couldn't hear the difference. Eventually after being surrounded by everyone saying bay-gle, I switched. So I vote for this not being regional, just people who learned the word in print first.
posted by Sukey Says at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2012


I've lived in Philly most of my life, and some Philadelphians do say it this way (not me)
posted by bearette at 6:10 PM on September 3, 2012


Oh, "melk". That seems to me to be the quintessence of Duluth, people asking if you want "melk" in your coffee.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on September 3, 2012


I would bet anything that this is the northern plains vowel shift thing happening. I'll bet in their heads, they are saying "baygle" just like everyone else. The same with milk/melk and egg/agg.

Interesting that Montrealers also say BAY-gel, since Montreal English should be pretty similar to the "Northern Cities" way of pronouncing it. I've always seen Canadian accents and Upper Midwest accents along a continuum.

I don't know too much about the various Canadian accents, but I would imagine that Montreal's english accent is going to be more maritime and French sounding than midwestern. There are significant historical differences.
posted by gjc at 7:32 PM on September 3, 2012


"Baggle" is not the typical pronunciation in Wisconsin. I don't think I ever heard it pronounced that way in the 20-odd years I lived in Madison, except as in "Hey, did you know there are some people who actually say 'baggle'?" Maybe we need to be more specific about what area we're talking about.
posted by John Cohen at 8:37 PM on September 3, 2012


My mum is from Arizona and California and has pronounced it baggle a couple times. I also vote for possession.
posted by deborah at 9:37 PM on September 3, 2012


I must be misunderstanding something here. By "baggle" do you mean something that rhymes with "yeah-gull"?? The "a" sound being like the "a" in dad or back? Because I'm in Minneapolis and granted, I don't leave the city that much and I've never paid attention but I'm pretty sure I've only ever heard "bay-gull".
posted by triggerfinger at 10:18 PM on September 3, 2012


Okay, I just watched the Community clip and realized the difference might not be as distinct as I was imagining. I will concede that this possibly happens in Minnesota though I think I would have to specifically be listening for it. (Unlike milk, melk and malk, which I can clearly hear)
posted by triggerfinger at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2012


Toronto jew here. Baygle all the way. Once or twice i've heard someone say baggle, and first i make fun of them, and then i pull the "i'm jewish and trust me you're saying that wrong, say BAY-GULL" card and then i teach them to pronounce "lox" like "lux".
posted by Kololo at 11:38 PM on September 3, 2012


It ain't Philly/South Jersey - they pronounce it "behggle" (or, y'know, the NORMAL way - "bay-gul").
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:23 AM on September 4, 2012


The Community bit comes from Dan Harmon constantly being made fun of for saying "baggle", and Dan Harmon is from Milwaukee.
posted by Smallpox at 8:06 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've heard from from 2 Pennsylvania people - near Pittsburgh, and rural PA. It bugs me so much!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 10:44 AM on September 4, 2012


I'm Canadian and I pronounce it "bay-gull." I've never heard it pronounced "baggle" here--not in British Columbia, anyway. From windykites' comment, maybe it's different in some places out east.

I'm from the Vancouver area originally and both of my parents are born-and-raised Lower Mainlanders and I pronounce it baggle too. I have no idea why. I think that my parents pronounce it "properly", though I haven't checked.

People also make fun of me, but I totally cannot pronounce it properly. I've tried. I try pronouncing it slowly, but nope. Some of my other -egs and -ags are heading that way too.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:46 PM on September 4, 2012


Everyone I knew growing up (including myself) in Iowa pronounced it bag-gul. Took years to change.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:55 PM on September 4, 2012


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