cunning, hawk-hock, pop-soda, etc

Millie Webb millie-webb at CHARTER.NET
Fri Jul 19 03:28:13 UTC 2002

I think the "cunning" is definitely a stronger marker for generation
(psychosocial, if not actually chronological) than for region.  I have heard
it, and still hear it among Upper Midwestern Amish, but other than that have
heard it only among older people (hmm, sixty or older? seventy or older?).

It is definitiely "pop" in Minnesota, definitely "pop" in Michigan
(including "diet pop").  But oddly enough , it seems to be "soda" in
Wisconsin around Madison and Milwaukee.  Methinks they "wanna/wanta" sound
like Northeasterners?  I have known a number of people from Kentucky, and
Southern Ohio who call it all "Coke", by the way.  As in: "what kinda Coke
do you want?"

When I say 90% of the time, Matt, I mean (as I believe I stated in my post)
that they keep the distinction in theory all the time, but in practice,
people misspeak, or their pronunciation is affected by the words surrounding
the lexical item in question, the structure of the phrase or sentence, and
so on.  No one can tell me they "always" say [hahki], [hawki], or [haki]
either, for another example.  No one can tell me their sonogram would look
the same each of ten times they said a given word, or even would be noted
with the same exact "coloring" of the short vowel (influenced by -h, -w,
lengthening, etc.) each of ten times by four different linguists who think
they are coding "the same way".  This is one reason I got so frustrated in
graduate school one professor's insistence that I "couldn't" possibly code a
NW Detroit white boy's short vowels the way I must have to come up with the
counts I did -- it is "impossible" as far as he was concerned.  Notice that
not every sociolinguist's understanding of "strict IPA" coding matches
either.  Labov (or his graduate students, anyway!) coded some of their
speakers' short vowels with some pretty odd "standards", viewed in later

I have to ask if this is the Matt Gordon I know from MI.  because if it is,
I probably just embarassed myself by trying to answer a rhetorical question
with way too much detail.  :-)  Amazing how memories of a particular
personality fade over fifteen years, isn't it?  :-P

PS -- if it's the wrong Matt, please don't take it too personally....

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