army ranks [was: assorted comments]

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 31 21:27:49 UTC 2006

As someone who had to train himself not to say "warsh" and "Warshington," I
think that you may have hit upon something. However, dInIs is also going
down the correct path. It's the fact that "Cavary" and "cavary" are both
good that forces me, under some conditions, to have to think about which one
I want to correct to during speech and which one it is that I'm hearing.

BTW, I was going to work on sense v. since, etc., but somebody told me that
it sounded cute that they fell together. And, sense it's a problem only when
I'm writing, I figure, WTF? ;-)


On 3/31/06, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: army ranks [was: assorted comments]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 3/31/06, Dennis R. Preston <preston at> wrote:
> >
> > The 'calvary' pronunciaqtion is much less frequent in l-vocalization
> dialects.
> >
> > The principal motivation for 'calvary' is the -lr- coda-onset
> > proximity in 'cavalry.' If the /l/ has been vocalized, that proximity
> > is no longer an issue and 'cavary' is a good pronunciation for both
> > items.
> In that case, couldn't the "calvary" pronunciation occur as a
> hypercorrection of sorts among l-vocalizers who have lost the "l" and
> are unsure of where to reinsert it? (Somewhat like the rhoticization
> of "warsh" and "Warshington"?)
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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