Covert Charge/Cats/Chops

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 27 14:34:36 UTC 2001

At 8:31 PM -0600 1/27/01, Mark Odegard wrote:
>Gareth Branwyn :
>>My wife (the jazz singer) came home from a gig the other night with a
>>question she wanted me to address to the list: A patron told her that in
>>one of the episodes of Ken Burn's Jazz, there is a sign that's visible on
>>the door of a club that says: "No Minimum or Covert Charges." This person
>>asked my wife if, despite the obvious, "cover charge" might come
>>from "covert charge." Seems unlikely, but I told her I'd ask.
>I have no knowledge on this, but the association of 'covert charge' and
>'cover charge' is the sort of thing rather educated native English speakers
>'Cover' and 'covert' are differently stressed. I don't see how 'k at -v@r' and
>'ko-VURT' could possibly be confused -- except in the minds of us'uns, those
>of us here on this list who search out ancient Scandic cognates for 'boxer
My understanding is that "covert" had traditionally been pronounced
like "cover" except with a final -[t] until fairly recently when
influence by its (etymologically unrelated but) frequent syntagmatic
partner and paradigmatic counterpart "overt" led to the 'ko-vert'
pronunciation you mention.  If this is right, phonology alone
wouldn't rule out the derivation you're seeking to dismiss, although
I hold no brief for it (or against it) myself.


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