Cancel your taem sher

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Driving to work this morning, I heard an advertisement on the radio that left me mightily perplexed till the last 5-10 seconds when I finally figured out what the speaker was talking about.

He had a thick southern accent and kept talking about how bad it was to have a "taem sher".  The first word sounded like it was between "tam" and "tem", so I give the makeshift transcription "taem".

I had no idea what he was decrying, but it was something very bad for "you and your family", so bad that apparently it could bankrupt you.  Moreover, it was something that was very hard to get rid of.

At that point, I began to get worried because I might unknowingly have one of these things, so I listened intently to all of the ill effects of taem shers.  Fortunately, this man's company could help you get rid of your malignant taem sher.  You just pay him and his company a fee and he would guarantee that they would dispel your taem sher demon, or your money back.

Then more about the evils of taem shers, including being locked into maintenance fees for the rest of your life.  It was only at that instant that I realized he was talking about "time shares", about which I barely knew anything anyway.

Context counts.


Selected readings


  1. KeithB said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 9:30 am

    I heard a commercial that was clearly for an airline, but I could not decipher the name. Finally I realized they were saying "Air France" in a french accent, even though the rest of the commercial was midwestern-standard accent. It came out something like "Are Fronse" with little gap between the words.

  2. Mark P said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 9:59 am

    I am from NW Georgia, where the Southern accent is, let’s say, not particularly euphonious. My pronunciation is pretty easily identifiable as some kind of Southern, but it was influenced by my mother, who grew up in Ohio, and my farther, whose Southern accent was filed down by his Army service. I didn’t have a clue what those words meant until you told us, and then I said, “Of course!” I don’t know where that type of pronunciation is native to, but I have heard close enough to mock it with something like “Tom Schere”, that fellow who runs that shady business out next to the fillin’ station. Other words from that dialect include tar and awl, both of which you can probably find at the fillin’ station.

  3. Cervantes said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 10:33 am

    I live in a small town with a single auto repair business, owned by an old swamp Yankee and his son, who are among the last possessors of the classic Connecticut accent. I stopped by looking for the son, and Russ said "He's gone to Willimantic to get some pot." I was, to say the least, nonplussed. Then I figured out what he had really said. I'll leave you to guess.

  4. Wanda said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 11:25 am

    @Cervantes: I grew up in Connecticut (granted, Fairfield County) and have no idea why the guy went to Willimantic.

  5. Robledo said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 11:46 am

    Being in the auto repair business, he was most likely looking for some "part".

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 11:47 am

    Re "Air France", a BBC Radio 3 announcer today spoke of "Radio France", with the (near-) French pronunciation of "Radio" but a pure English version of "France" (roughly 01:53:30 into today’s "Afternoon Concert").

  7. Mark P said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 11:59 am

    @Cervantes — I have watched This Old House for years, so it didn’t take long for me to figure out what “pot” meant.

  8. Rodger Cunningham said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 12:33 pm

    Primed by "thick Southern accent," I read for a good ways assuming he was saying "temperature."

  9. Cervantes said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 1:59 pm

    Robledo is correct. Actually I think he said "parts" but the "s" wasn't audible either, final consonants get reduced in the Bert (or rather Beht) and I accent.

  10. John Swindle said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 9:37 pm

    I assume "sher" is unremarkable and it's "taem" that is in question. To frame a wild guess as a question—does it radiate west and south from Tennessee?

    As someone born in Oklahoma, raised in Kansas, and living in a place that depends on tourism I had no trouble with "cancel my taem sher." It's not how I'd say it, but it's unmistakable and oesn't sound to me anything like "Tom Schere."

  11. Joe Fineman said,

    November 28, 2023 @ 9:44 pm

    I remember revisiting my former home on Long Island (NY) after some years' residence in Virginia, and hearing the landlady's boy say he was going *climbing*. He said "clamming", but I translated the vowel.

  12. rosie said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 2:35 am

    Given that the speaker really did say "parts", the best sense I can make of this is that they said /pɑ:ts/, in which case the unusual thing is that @Cervantes transcribed it as "pot". At least I've not yet come across any accent where "part" is /pɒt/.

  13. Cervantes said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 9:06 am

    He definitely said "pot." The o sound may have been a bit elongated.

  14. Mark P said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 9:53 am

    @John Swindle — I, of course, did not hear what Victor Mair was trying to transliterate, but from his attempt it brought to mind a particular dialect not all that common these days but definitely present in at least some of the population. In that dialect, the long “i” tends toward, but might not actually reach the sound of “Tom”. It’s probably ar least a slight exaggeration, but to me it gets the sense. I am pretty sure television has brought most of the Southern accent closer to a Midwestern accent. I should also note that I am 73, so I have a lot of history hearing my region’s accent.

  15. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 9:54 am

    Joe Fineman,

    Ah, yes, the ever-present Appalachian every-vowel-shifts-to-"a" phenomenon. We have this in Pittsburgh. Speaking of which, how do you represent in IPA the sounds "x" and "y", in Western Pennsylvania vernacular, in words such as "Dxntxn" (i.e. downtown), "yt" ("out"). They're pronounced something like "dahntahn" and "æht", but I don't think that's how you would represent it phonetically, as it's not exactly an "ah" or an "æ" sound. The "a" in "dahntahn" isn't exactly an "ah" sound, but I can't think of a word in standard American English that has that sound. The "out" vowel is pretty close to the "a" in "cat", though.

  16. katarina said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 2:36 pm

    When I first came to America, I found that the Black ("negro" in those days) cleaning woman of my boarding house and other Blacks I met had an accent that I thought was an uneducated Black accent. For example, she'd say "bay-add" for "bad". Year later I visited Georgia (U.S.) and found that all the White southern Baptist women I met spoke with the same accent as the Black cleaning woman. They said "bay-add" and "jee-ow-jia" for Georgia. Then I realized the cleaning woman didn't have a Black accent. She had a Southern accent.

  17. John Swindle said,

    November 29, 2023 @ 3:09 pm

    @Mark P: Yes, I've heard that accent, with "time" sounding almost like "Tom." I just took "taem sher" to be something different, more Southern twang than Southern drawl. People who know about these things would say that pronunciation is in a different part of the mouth. Not knowing, I'd put it in a different part of the South.

  18. TIC Redux said,

    November 30, 2023 @ 6:34 pm

    I know well the commercial of which you write, VM… My fav'rite among the Southern pronunciations in it is when he tells you what you can expect if they take you as a "clont" — with, per'aps (as in your "taem" transcription) only the very slightest hint of a schwa sound after the vowel… Another example, it seems, of the long "i" taking on the short "o" sound…

  19. TIC Redux said,

    November 30, 2023 @ 7:48 pm

    Oh, and the guy in that commercial hails, I b'lieve, from central Tennessee…

  20. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    December 1, 2023 @ 7:39 am

    Seems like the idea of the "Southern" accent (east of Texas, that is) might fork into 2 subgroups, "highland" (i.e. Appalachian) and "lowland" (i.e. the "jee-ow-jia" accent observed by Katrina (I was in Atlanta last year — that's still how they say it!). In other words, East Tennessee and Western Pennsylvania, for example, might lie on the same dialect continuum where, travelling from south to north somewhere around Maryland, "pen" and "pin" become different words again, and "cot" and "caught" merge.

  21. Gabe Ormsby said,

    December 6, 2023 @ 12:51 pm

    For years, Delta Airlines used a safety video in which the speaker instructed passengers to place their "carrion" under the seat or in the overhead bin. In context, it was clear that "carry on" was the intended meaning, but if conjured up strange visions in my mind of leopard passengers stuffing a mutilated impala into an overhead compartment every time.

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