Yoda Minnesota

I missed it on Oct. 7/8, but just caught the replay tonight of Saturday Night Live starring Seth Rogen and featuring Spoon. One of the longest (and funniest) Weekend Update segment with Amy Poehler, Seth Myers, and many others. At one point, Poehler busts out two jokes in a row that both rely on the neutralization between /t/ and /d/ between two vowels, the second of which is unstressed (discussed several times on this blog):

  1. “Anita Hill? I need a vacation.”
    Anita, I need a = [əní:ɾə]
  2. “One of the hottest concert tours in the country now is 14-year-old Miley Cyrus, the star of “Hannah Montana”. While the least popular: Yoda Minnesota.”
    Yoda, Minnesota = [óʊɾə]

The second made it on this NYT blog post with excerpts. Check out the top two hits I got for the first one:

  • Weekend Update: This was a bit too long and what was up with “Anita Hill? I need a vacation.” (link)
  • Did anyone watch last night? During Weekend Update, there was one joke I didn’t get. When Amy Poehler said, “Anita Hill? I nita vacation.” […]
    i didnt watch it but i think she meant anita hill as “i need a hill” and i nita vacation, instead of a “hill” but i dont know
    Yeah, I think it was just a play on words.

It could be that this joke was a little too short, or a little too ambiguous, or it could be that the initial A of Anita and the vowel of I don’t rhyme sufficiently for many speakers (in other words, using something like [ə] for both was a stretch for the joke). But the “I nita” ear-spelling above has me wondering.

3 thoughts on “Yoda Minnesota

  1. Darin Flynn

    Just today I discovered that catheder is spelled catheter :) This post begs for another some day on oronyms & phonological theory. Surely like many of you, I use oronyms in my teaching to illustrate differences between segmental and prosodic phonology. I also find them useful as non-test comparisons in experiments on partial vs. complete neutralization.

  2. Andrew Nevins

    hey, i love using oronyms in class too to show that allophony has a purpose :)! like “we learn” vs. “will earn” (Trubetzkoy’s, I think). does anyone know a good database or article on these (i think kissthisguy.com has the famous “kiss the sky” “kiss this guy” example due to blocking of aspiration after s-)?

    –andrew nevins

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