Heard on The Judges

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Fri Mar 7 07:21:10 UTC 2008

My NJ dialect DOES distinguish between cow and cowl, but they are
[kaeU] and [kAU] respectively, in rapid speech anyway.  In careful
speech, I can prolong (and velarize) the [U] in the second one, or
put the /l/ in.  Any others with this pattern?

Paul Johnston
On Mar 6, 2008, at 12:30 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Heard on The Judges
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> Fifty-year-old black, female plaintiff:
> "After we reached our 25th wedding anniversary, I wanted for us to
> renew our _vowels_ [vauw at z]."
> I think that this is an ordinary hypercorrection and not an eggcorn.
> The woman was clearly trying to speak "above her station," as it were,
> being in court and all, following the well-known pattern, /kul/ >
> [kuw at l], hence /vauz/ (generally indistinguishable from or even used
> in place of /vaulz/) > /vauw at lz/ > [vauw at z].
> As a child down in Texas, I didn't - or couldn't - distinguish between
> "cow" and "cowl," using "cowl" for "cow," until I learned to read,
> consequently becoming aware both of the spelling, "cow," and,
> eventually, of the existence of a separate word, "cowl." I don't know
> what you would call this - maybe just a simple mishearing - since, not
> knowing "cowl," at the time, I couldn't have "corrected" "cow" to it.
> Or it could be that I interpreted the singular of [kauz] as being
> [kawl]. Who knows?
> BTW, her husband didn't go for it, she said, so she threw herself a
> 50th-birthday party, instead, thereby revealing her age.
> -Wilson
> --
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -----
>                                               -Sam'l Clemens
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