are we making since yet?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 18 23:34:53 UTC 2005

On 4/18/05, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      are we making since yet?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> in homework from one of my Sophomore Seminar students: repeated
> occurrences of "make since" 'make sense'.  a new misspelling for me,
> but i see that google gets ca. 73.9k raw web hits for it (as opposed to
> ca. 13.1m for "make sense"), which is quite a substantial number (and
> most of them seem to be relevant).
> my first hypothesis was that this was just ear-spelling from someone
> with the /E/-/I/ neutralization before nasals.  the student grew up in
> california, though.  so i gave her three sentences to read, one with
> "pen", one with "cents", and one (on a separate card) with "sense".
> [E] as clear as anything.  i then asked her if she found anything odd
> about sentence #3, and, with some hesitation, she suggested that it
> might be spelled wrong.  which word?  "sense", of course.
> she's not an erratic or particularly bad speller (though she thinks she
> is), but somewhere she picked up the idea that the idiom is "make
> since" (possibly from seeing it in print, from people who *were*, at
> least some of them, ear-spelling).
> not an eggcorn, so far as i can see.  she had no idea why the idiom
> should have "since" in it, and i can't see how "since" is in any way an
> improvement on "sense", which, after all, um, makes some sense.
> arnold (zwicky at

A clear [-En] from a Californian? Interesting, A colleague at UC
Davis, from Santa Rosa in Northern California, after a lecture on
phonetics by a visiting scholar, once rhetorically asked, "Why should
I say, e.g. [tEn] here [in Davis] when I say [tIn] at home?" A friend
from Los Angeles complained of being mocked by her Somerville,
Massachusetts, housemates because she didn't distinguish [-en] from
[-In], with the two of them falling together as [-In]. "Like they
don't talk funny in Boston!" Both speakers were European-Americans.

-Wilson Gray

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