Law in Popular Culture

How do you pronounce 'lawyer'? What about 'voir dire'? Will your answer make you a 'redneck'?


Do you say “vorr dyer” or “vwar deer” or some other variant? And does your pronunciation of “lawyer” rhyme with “saw her”?

The pronunciation of “lawyer” is part of a trending story on regional differences in pronunciation. Most people pronounce the word “loyer,” according to a map by PhD student Joshua Katz of North Carolina State University. He created a whole series of maps showing regional differences in pronunciations that chronicle information from linguistics experts, report the New York Daily News, the Business Insider, MSN Now and Above the Law.

According to his map on “lawyer,” the pronunciation differs in the South, where the word is pronounced “law-yer.”

A survey on regional differences in the pronunciation of “voir dire” is less scientific. Lawyer Lyn Robbins polled 114 of his attorney friends, who are located in 29 states, about the pronunciation they used, Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte Blog reported last year. Here are his results and commentary:

“Vorr Dyer” – 46 (although many of you admit this is wrong and/or redneck)

“Vwuah Deer” – 43 (many of you are very proud of yourself and your intricate manipulation of French)

“Vwar Deer” – 9

“Vorr Deer” – 7

“Voy Dire” – 5

“Jury Selection” – 3

“Vwor Dire” – 1 (explained to me as “rhymes with tire”)

“Vwor Dar” – 0 (some of you are lying; I have heard you, and this is what you say)

Robbins, a senior general attorney for BNSF Railway Co., had conducted his poll in preparation for a speech to a group of industry attorneys.

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