Slang spread, dialect spread, language spread

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Aug 2 16:46:56 UTC 2004

Everyone knows that, when dialects and languages spread from their
point of origin, they naturally have to overcome the "resistance," so
to speak, of indigenous forms. Sometimes, slang also has to contend
with and overcome indigenous forms.

In 1956, we in Saint Louis were aware that the phrase, "from the
GIT-go," was popular in both Chicago and Kansas City.  By coincidence,
one of my grandfathers died that year. So, I found out, as a
consequence of attending his funeral and thereby having a chance to
speak with East Texas contemporaries, that "from the BE-go" was the
"correct" term in that area. But, in Louietown, the term used was "from
the beginning." This otherwise innocuous English phrase had been
slangified, so to speak, by giving it a hyper-BE makeover. Instead of
being pronounced approx. "biGINnin," "beginning," when used in the
slang phrse, was pronounced more like "BEE-giiiin-nin." That is, stress
was shifted to the initial syllable, which was, in its turn, given its
spelling pronunciation and slightly lengthened. Then the middle
syllable, though no longer stressed, was lengthened by about 4X. The
final syllable was left unchanged. Hence, at one time, "from the
git-go" had competition. Now, of course, "git-go" the only form known
and only we oldheads know that such has not always been the case. That
the E TX form rather looks like it might be a cross between the KC/Chi
version and the StL version is, I think, merely a coincidence.

Just thought I'd throw that out there, just in case that it might be -
heh, heh - an original observation.;-)

-Wilson Gray

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