wash cloth to worsh rag

Herbert Stahlke hstahlke at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Sat Nov 30 02:05:15 UTC 2002

One possible explanation of "worsh" for "wash" is articulatory.  In parts of
the country that distinguish "cot" and "caught", which includes Eastern Ky,
the vowel of "caught" is sometimes not open /o/, as in Br. Eng. "hot", but
the low back rounded vowel represented by IPA lower case inverted script a.
This vowel, which I also have, coming from SE Michigan, involves a slightly
constricted pharynx (throat cavity).  If you constrict the pharynx even
more, the effect is very much like that of retroflexion, as in Midwestern
/r/.  The perception of a vowel spelled <ar> or <or> for "warsh/worsh" as
r-colored results from the pharyngeal constriction.  I suspect that that
perception might also lead speakers to emphasize such an r-coloring so that
they have a phonemic /r/ in such words.

Herb Stahlke
  -----Original Message-----
  From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf Of
christen stevens
  Sent: Friday, November 29, 2002 8:36 PM
  Subject: wash cloth to worsh rag

  My mother has always referred to a small towel or face cloth as a wash
cloth.  However, all of my family raised in Eastern Ky refers to it as a
"worsh cloth".  Does anyone know where this term originated or how "wash"
was changed to "worsh" in that part of the country?

  christen stevens

  Help STOP SPAM with the new MSN 8 and get 2 months FREE*

More information about the Ads-l mailing list