Pennies and palatals of yesteryear

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 8 14:10:36 UTC 1999

>On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Bethany K. Dumas wrote:
>}On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Bruce Dykes wrote:
>}>I heard one new to me from our London office:
>}>"He's gone to spend a penny."
>}It's not new, it's very old. Under the old currency, it took a large
>}copper penny to open the stall door. I have wondered since 1971 (when
>}decimal cxurrency completely replaced the old currency) if the phrase
>}would survive. I am delighed to see that it has.
>My mother was tickled when she heard my father-in-law use the phrase.  I
>wounder if the phrase is used by younger speakers.  How old was the London
>It just dawned on me that, perhaps, the phrase could be related to how
>pence are referred to, here: a penny is 1p.
whence the verb 'to pee'.


On another front,

an earlier posting (either from or to dInIs) writes

>Just from what I've seen on t.v. news, most
>American-Italians with "gli" in their name seem to
>have have gone to "velar g" - syllable separation -
>"li".  I know I've heard this several times recently,
>but specific names escape me.

and Ron Butters adds

>and we all know how this famous painter-of-lovely-long-necked-women is
>usually rendered.


One additional piece of evidence for this shift is the tendency to truncate
-gli- names (at least the ones that don't have Modigliani's extra
long-necked unstressed syllable onset) as -gs, at least in sports lingo.

Pagliarulo (a former major-league catcher) --> Pags
Gagliano (there were at least two I recall) --> Gags

The commissioner of the National Football League, Paul Tagliabue, is never
"Tags", though (although he the -g- is velar).
I may also have heard the singular version of such truncations (-Vg). In
fact now that I think of it there's a restaurant somewhere (L.A.?) whose
name always struck me as ill-chosen:  Gags Jr.  Taboo-avoidance avoidance
aside, I wonder whether the actual (original) proprietor wasn't someone
named Gagliano or Gagliardi or something along those lines.


More information about the Ads-l mailing list