wolfing/woofing (was Just wondering)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 1 07:13:38 UTC 2008

We blacks don't say either /wUlf/ or /wUlfIn/ when we're in the 'hood.
Some, like me, use the pronunciation /wUlf/ outside of the 'hood. I
don't use /wUlfin/ at all. When I wrote "wolfing," I had in mind the
sE pronunciation /wUlfiN/. I didn't mean to claim that any BE speaker
would ever necessarily say /wUlfin/. But, of course, you never know.
Judge Joe Brown says "ha[l]f, sa[l]ve" etc., and, at one time - when I
began to read well - so did I. The black Saint Louis DJ, George "The
G" Logan, went so far as to say things like "siliver [sIlIv at r]" (The G
was a Catholic, whence his r-fulness and, probably, his penchant for
weird hypercorrections), whereas, even as a child in Texas, I knew
that there was no distinction between "silver" and "civil." There may
have been a distinction in certain environments, but the occurrence of
these two words in conversation that a child might hear was pretty
much confined to "silver dollar" and "Civil War," resp. OTOH, as
another black Saint Louis DJ, Amos "Yo' Ponyo" Doston, used to say:

If I don't love you, baby
Old folks don't call cover "kivver" [kI at v@]
And the Lone Ranger
Don't call his white horse "Silver" [sI at v@]

As "old folks" indicates, "kivver" for "cover" was already obsolescent
in BE 45 years ago and is undoubtedly dead by now. I heard it a couple
of times or so, way back when.


On 2/29/08, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> 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:      Re: wolfing/woofing (was Just wondering)
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  On Feb 29, 2008, at 4:55 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>  > It can be used to back away from a threat, while things are still at
>  > the wolfing stage and there's still time to escape and yet maintain a
>  > semblance of one's cool:
>  >
>  > Isn't this usually "woofing" -- that's what Zora Neal Hurston has,
>  > anyway.  Is there such a thing as an "intrusive L"?
> well, sort of, via a kind of hypercorrection.  if you're someone with /
>  wUf/ for the word spelled WOLF, you might be inclined to "fix" /wUfIN/
>  by "restoring" the /l/.
>  arnold
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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