The stink/The stank

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Fri Jan 21 06:09:21 UTC 2005

On Jan 20, 2005, at 10:04 PM, Beverly Flanigan wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: The stink/The stank
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> --------
> A subdialect? Ah thank not.

Good point, Bev! I shouldn't have let Jonathan bogart me into a
defensive posture.


> 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.
>> -Wilson
>> On Jan 20, 2005, at 6:28 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
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>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>> Subject:      Re: The stink/The stank
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>>> --
>>> --------
>>> I'd be inclined to agree, except that for many speakers (presumably
>>> Hank Hill is one), the verbal  " *It stanks " would be impossible.
>>> JL
>>> Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
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>>> -----------------------
>>> 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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