Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Aug 21 22:34:03 UTC 2004

On Aug 21, 2004, at 3:25 PM, Dennis R. Preston wrote:

> In a current TV ad a guy who has lost more in the market than he
> would like to admit tells his wife that he has lost some, a little,
> etc... and then he says he has lost a "skowsh" ("scowsh"?) /skosh/,
> the vowel of "boat". The etymology of this seems crystal clear to me;
> it is surely from Japanese "sukosi" ("sukoshi" for those who don't
> like phonemic spelling), meaning a tad, a a little, etc.... (The
> monosyllabic English pronunciation falls out directly from Japanese
> vowel devoicing, which is heard as "nothing" by English speakers, in
> the first syllable and the last. High vowels are "devoiced" between
> two voiceless consonants or between a voiceless consonant and pause,
> yielding /skosh/ from /sukoshi/.)
> But that's enough phonology (which never seems to get me anywhere
> anyhow.)
> When did this item enter English? Is it a WWII, Korean War, or later
> (or earlier) loan? DARE doesn't have it (as expected, since I don't
> suspect it's regional), and I can't find it in other dictionaries
> (and I don't know how to spell it in English anyhow, which makes it
> tough to look up).

try AHD4 under "skosh".  or NSOED4 ditto.


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