wash cloth to worsh rag

Patty Davies patty at CRUZIO.COM
Sat Nov 30 16:34:48 UTC 2002

My mom's whole side of the family definitely said 'worsh rag', born &
raised in Minneapolis.  My younger brother picked this up from my mom (we
were born & raised in Calif.).  I remember having a big argument one time
over 'George Worshington'.  He was about 7 or so, was *really* upset over
being corrected by me :}


At 10:35 AM 11/30/02 -0500, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>Same here in southeastern Ohio--but I've always considered British 'hot' to
>have not the full open /o/ (which I as a Minnesotan of a certain age still
>have in 'caught') but instead the "inverted script a" you describe.  In
>fact, 'cot' and 'caught' do merge here in SE Ohio (as they do in western
>PA), but at that intermediate inverted script a point.  In central Ohio
>they merge at low back unrounded /a/ (I can't do the script /a/ on the
>BTW, in Minnesota in my youth, and perhaps elsewhere as well, "wash rag"
>was the commoners' term (and in my home), while "wash cloth" was city
>folks' term.
>At 09:05 PM 11/29/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>>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
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