L.Armstrong and E.Fitzgerald song

I listened to the “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” song by L.Armstrong and E.Fitzgerald.

There were these lines:

You like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Let’s call the whole thing off

You say laughter and I say larfter, You say after and I say arfter
Laughter, larfter after arfter, Let’s call the whole thing off,

What geographical, cultural etc ways of pronunciation are reflected in this song?

Satchmo and Ella are mainly contrasting North American English with British English. Technically it’s not about British speakers, but rather about upper class Americans who have learned RP diction. Up until the mid 20th century wealthy Americans often sent their children to England or France for schooling. Thus, r-dropping and RP a-sounds became a status symbol.

In most North American dialects, laughter, and after have retained the original ‘ash’ sound whereas in most British dialects all short a vowels have merged into a single sound.

Tomato vs tomahto (and the same for potato) is also a long held point of contention. By the rules of English pronunciation the to-may-to version should be the correct one. However, if this word entered English from Italian, then the Italian pronunciation of to-mah-to would be the correct form. Either way, both pronunciation in each case are accepted.

BTW, another New Orleans musician you may like is Luis Prima.

Thank you very much! :slight_smile: