Heard on The Judges: "mother dear," "souphomore"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 26 05:41:11 UTC 2008

I've never been able to come up with an explanation for "souphmore,"
because it's pretty much universal and isn't used just by people who
say "souf" for "south." But I wouldn't be surprised to by a claim that
that's how it started.

FWIW, I used to pronounce "modern" as though it were spelled "morden"
[mOrd at n]. I'd still pronounce it that way, if (white) people hadn't
kept hassling me about it. In Texas, this word is pronounced [mOd at n]
or [mawd at n]. Speakers of BrE may be willing to admit that their
pronunciation of "modern" somewhat resembles this Southern-U.S.

On the basis of pronunciations of this type, it's not obvious where
the missing [r] (not /r/, since there's no /r/ in the underlying
representation) should be inserted. (Doesn't the spelling, modern,
tell you where the [r] should be inserted? Well, what would seeing the
the written string m-igh-t tell you about the pronunciation of
"might," if you had only the pronunciation of the word to go by and
even if you knew how e.g. "sight" was spelled and pronounced?) So, my
personal guess was that the r-ful pronunciation was "mordun." It
sounded right and came very close to matching the spelling. So, I took
it and ran with it for a couple of years. In like manner, I used
"morderation," "mordenization," etc.


On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 5:31 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Heard on The Judges: "mother dear," "souphomore"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 4:37 PM -0400 10/23/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>Judge Joe Brown addressed the mother of a litigant as "mother dear":
>>"_Mother dear_, step forward!"
>>In  addition, he referred to a college student multiple times as a
>>"souphmore" [sawfmowr].
>>I was mildly surprised to hear "mother dear" used as a term of address
>>for someone else's mother. I thought that that that usage had pretty
>>much died out. Obviously, I just haven't heard it used, because I've
>>been living Boston's Back Bay for the past twenty years.
>>OTOH, "souphmore," "souphmo'," etc. are pretty much "standard" in BE.
>>Only people like me who've made the effort to learn sE say
>>"sophomore," which is felt to be a hypercorrection in the 'hood.
> Does the "souph" [sawf] in "souphmo(re)" represent a reinterpretation
> of the word as if it contained the directional "south", given the
> independently attested [T]>[f] in syllable-final position?  I think
> we've discussed "southmore" itself as an eggcorn...Yup,
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0709C&L=ads-l&D=1&P=20269
> I see there are 134 hits for "souphmore", and even a few for "souphomore".
> LH
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