WE "(C)oowul" = BE "(C)oo"?

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Mon Mar 24 01:42:40 UTC 2008

Because your tongue tip is just resting there at the very end of "cool" rather than being sounded as a more or less separate syllabic?

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-----Original Message-----
From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>

Date:         Sun, 23 Mar 2008 21:31:36
Subject:      [ADS-L] WE "(C)oowul" = BE "(C)oo"?

In Sideris & McWilliams's recent _From Grill to Dome; a dictionary of
African American slang words and phrases_, c2005, all words that end
in what sounds like "-oowul" in WE to my ear are spelled as _oo'_,
e.g. _fool_ is spelled _foo'_.

This particular mishearing of BE pronunciation is not new. When I was
stationed at the now-defunct Fort Devens, MA, in 1959, the cooler and
the goner white GI's often asked me to hip them to the BE
pronunciation of "(un)cool," very cool terms, back in the day, and
almost exceedingly commonly used in black speech, way back when. When
I would say "cool," the white guys would reproduce my pronunciation,
"cool" [ku:l] as "coo," i.e. as [ku::], with a very long [u]-sound,
but with no [l] or even a [w]. When I say [-u:l], I know that the [l]
is present because, needless to say, I can feel the apex of my tongue
touch my alveolum just barely in front of my alveolar ridge.

Why it is that WE speakers be unable to hear this [l] is a mystery to
me. I've never had a problem hearing the [wUl] in WE "coowul" [kuwUl].

I ain' tryna be correckin' y'awl Ang-lish uh nothin, but ...

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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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