Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Thu Jul 22 22:52:48 UTC 2004

You obviously belong to a younger Louisville generation; those taking
the language to hell in a handbasket. At one time the hoarse-horse
(or four-for) distinction was alive and well in Louisville. "Hoarse"
was long-o, the vowel of "coat"; "horse" was open o, the vowel of

Yes, people who don't have the distinction find it hard to imagine.
But Northern dip-shits find it hard to imagine I/e conflation before
nasals (a Louisville phenomenon live and well), so it's not hard to
imagine finding people who find it hard to imagine.


PS: In fact, you could have cited "coarse" - "course."

PPS: hw-w is another fading Louisville distinction.

>In a message dated > Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:53:19 -0400
>>  "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU> writes:
>>  Close but no cigar. Yes, forty (with open o) falls together with
>>  farty (with short o), but four (with long o) is actually preserved in
>>  St Louis, as it is in my dialect (Louisville) ,one of the few which
>>  keeps the hoarse-horse distinction. (Alas, used to keep the
>>  hoarse-horse distinction, I should say.)
>I am from Louisville and I have no recollection of any hoarse-horse
>distinction.  In fact, I can't imagine how whichever one does not
>rhyme with "course"
>would sound.
>"My mother's throat was red, but the doctor said that I had a hoarse of a
>different color" is a joke I heard in high school.  ("Horse of a
>different color"
>appears in the 1939 movie "Wizard of Oz".)
>           - James A. Landau

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages
A-740 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 432-3099
Fax: (517) 432-2736
preston at msu.edu

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