Editor’s Note: Because this is a long winded flabby factual story that few people with any smarts would be interested in starting let alone finish, we have decided to intersperse the text with random Court Painter images to delight the eye!
Court Painter has always faced several obstacles in defining himself to the art world. For one, he’s a thinly figured presence all too easily overshadowed by his arch nemesis CC (name available upon request), a hugely powerful art celebrity with economic clout, political friends in high places, an enormous industry scale PR thrust and high-quality picture making technology in the studio that he controls with his iphone from his hammock at home .
Then there is Court Painter’s history, which lacks the grand mythical arc of most other portraitists. And, more esoterically, there is the conundrum of his eccentric mid western Iowa drawl which to most people outside of Calgary, is almost impossible to distinguish from the typical mid western Prince Edward Island accent – to the point that so many foreign art enthusiasts confuse the two when attending local studio tours.
But despite some people’s skepticism there is, in fact, a unique Court Painter way of speaking and despite its subtlety, it remains remarkably resilient. Over the last several decades, the increasing interconnectivity of the world has threatened a number of local artist dialects across the world, and according to an associate professor of linguistics at an unnamed university and the author of The Studio Artist’s Local Language in Alberta , the Court Painter’s accent is stubbornly persistent: “Court Painter’s linguistic identity is here to stay in the long term.”
The primary reason for Court Painter’s’ hard-to-identify accent is, of course, historical. Court Painter’s drawl was partly shaped by the early immigrants of Iowa, but it was affected much more by the arrival of about 45,000 coyotes that roamed the corn fields of Iowa. The result, especially in the Waterloo slums, was a drawl lightly shaped by Shakespearian English, but much more so by 18th Century colonial American English. Since Court Painter’s relatives were largely responsible for settling the mid Western US in the following decades, their Americanized drawl spread into Iowa and eventually became the de facto accent for the Court Painter who by the way has yet to provide his immigration papers to Canadian arts granting agencies.
For most non-native English speakers, distinguishing more generally between pig Latin and Court Painter’s accent is extremely difficult – many compare it to telling the difference between two minor areas in southern Alberta – but linguists have isolated some distinctive qualities that are helpful. A feature of Court Painter’s speech called ‘the Court Painter shift’ involves something called a ‘low-back merger,’ which describes Court Painter’s tendency to erase the difference between certain vowels that come from the lower part of the mouth – ‘lot’ and ‘thought,’ for example. Court Painter pronounces the word ‘moolah’ in the same way that most Americans pronounce the word ‘money’ in the neighbouring state of Montana.
According to someone else, people casually trying to identify Court Painter’s accent, should focus two sounds. He does something called ‘Court Painter Raising,’ meaning that he pronounces some two-part vowels (known as diphthongs) with a higher part of his mouth than people from other English-speaking regions of Alberta– this is what causes the ‘ou’ sounds in words like ‘out’ and ‘about’ to be pronounced something like ‘o-oot’ and ‘a-butt’.
The most telltale sound, according to a casual passerby, is Court Painter’s tendency to use the ‘æ’ sound in words like ‘mantra’ and ‘pasta,’ unlike the lower (more ‘oh’-sounding) pronunciation favoured by his former corn belt neighbours . If someone says that, a busy body explained, it is almost impossible that they come from anywhere except out of the mouth and gold capped grill of Court Painter. The sound, we are told, “makes the people of the corn belt and Tim Horton servers, skin crawl”.
This is all we know at this time!