The stink/The stank

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Fri Jan 21 03:04:00 UTC 2005

A subdialect? Ah thank not.

At 09:08 PM 1/20/2005 -0500, you wrote:
>I *do* agree with you. Oh. Now I see your point. The quote from Hank
>should read "stink." No, maybe I'm still not getting your point. I
>could say "it stanks," if that fitted in with what the people around me
>said and I didn't want to draw attention to myself by speaking a
>different subdialect. But the people around me use "stinks" and so do
>I. So, in what sense would this be impossible for any other speakers?
>It's not as though the string -ank- is foreign to English. I once had a
>chat with an Englishman who was unable to pronounce "Wanda" in
>isolation so that it could be distinguished from "wander" spoken in
>isolation. Or do you mean that "it stanks" would be impossible to the
>extent that, in some sense, no English speaker  could say "it rans" or
>"it stoods" or "it wents"? Then I was right. I *do* agree with you.
>But, for people speaking a suddialect in which "stink" and "stank" fall
>together as "stank," "it stanks" would be just ordinary English speech,
>with nothing special or peculiar about it at all.
>On Jan 20, 2005, at 6:28 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: The stink/The stank
>>I'd be inclined to agree, except that for many speakers (presumably
>>Hank Hill is one), the verbal  " *It stanks " would be impossible.
>>Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender: American Dialect Society
>>Poster: Wilson Gray
>>Subject: The stink/The stank
>>About a year ago, I heard the character, Hank Hill, of the animated
>>cartoon, "King of The Hill," which is set in Texas, say, "You got the
>>stank on you and everybody can smell it." It's been about sixty years
>>since I've anyone use this turn of phrase, which means, "everybody can
>>tell that you're the responsible party, etc."
>>Then, on Comedy Central a while ago, on a show called "Country
>>Comedians" or some such, one person says to another, "Go 'hayid. Put
>>yo' stank(sic) on it," which, from context, meant, "Put your mark (of
>>ownership, etc.) on it."
>>In both cases, the speakers were white, FWIW.
>>So, I was moved to see what Google had to say. It showed that both
>>spellings, "stink" and "stank," are in use. But, whatever the spelling,
>>both of the meanings above are rare. In some cases, "stink/stank" is
>>used to replace "funk" in the sense of "foul, disgusting odor." In
>>other cases, it's used to mean "the word, the inside dope, the skinny,"
>>leading to puns like, "The stink on anal glands." In still other cases,
>>"put the stink/stank on" is used to mean "jinx, foul up," etc. A closer
>>reading of the data may yield other meanings.
>>IMO, there's only one word, "stink," with the spelling following
>>whichever pronunciation is hip or boss in a given area.
>>-Wilson Gray
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