-ing vs. -in' in expletives

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Thu Jul 22 19:23:26 UTC 2004

I heard Bono too, and I'm sure he used /N/--he said the word loudly and
emphatically:  "This is so fucking great!"  (or maybe "cool").

At 12:13 PM 7/22/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>I have frequently heard the /N/ variant used as a kind of emphatic
>pronunciation.  Bono's usage sounds utterly unermarkable (except
>statistically) here.
>"Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
>Subject: Re: -ing vs. -in' in expletives
>On Jul 22, 2004, at 6:44 AM, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
> > Well, since -ing/-in' is variable, and since -ing tends to be used in
> > formal
> > situations, and since receiving an award is a rather formal situation,
> > why
> > couldn't -ing have been "spontaneous"?
>i was taking as given the observation that the adverbial expletive is
>almost always pronounced with final /n/; for vast numbers of people,
>this version has been lexicalized, and they treat pronunciations with
>/N/ as a kind of hypercorrection, and with derision (as characteristic
>of non-native speakers or people who are "totally out of it", to quote
>some college acquaintances of mine). (the present participles of the
>various verbs "fuck" haven't necessarily gone all the way down this
>it is true that formal contexts favor /N/ over /n/ for present
>participles, other things being equal. but the other things include
>the stylistic level of the verb itself (technical, formal, and
>infrequent verbs favoring /N/, everyday, informal, and frequent verbs
>facilitating /n/) and the speaker's presentation of self (as, say, a
>serious authority vs. a regular guy -- correlations of /n/ with
>masculinity and masculine self-presentations tend to be high). so even
>if bono had been uttering a verb (rather than an adverbial), these
>factors would conspire to favor /n/ very heavily. but in fact he was
>uttering the adverbial expletive.
>so i would have expected /n/, and my guess is that that's what he said
>(but that reporters bizarrely "corrected" the spelling). that's why i
>asked if anyone had actually *heard* the event.
>i thought this expectation was so strong that a pronunciation with /N/
>would be very odd. so i would at least consider a calculated use. (an
>entertainment awards ceremony is an odd mixture of formality and
>informality, by the way, not a context where i'd expect bono to
>hypercorrect to /N/ in "fuckin'". but odd things do happen.)
>arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)
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