Trivial note on pronunciation: forehead (and 'weskit')

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Thu Aug 6 09:30:27 UTC 2009

I (a speaker of SSBE) learnt this nursery-rhyme, too, as a child. I see the
point that in order for it to be literal 'rhyme', _forehead_ must be
'forrid', but it never bothered me at the time! My family were and are
'4head'-speakers, and so I unflinchingly said:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her 4head;
And when she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid!

I suppose, if I'd ever thought about why this was called a 'rhyme' when, in
fact, the words in two metrically-prominent positions in the verse _didn't_
have the same rime (for me), I'd have appealed to the broader sense of its
being part of the genre of such poems for children, known, of course, as
'nursery rhymes'. They have other qualities apart from having rhyming words
in metrically-prominent positions, notably the rhythm, and that might have
been what qualified this as a 'rhyme' for me. Maybe that, and the other
actual rhymes in ll. 1 and 2 and ll. 4 and 5.

As for 'weskit', I only learned that pronunciation from my American
now-wife when we met, and I remember momentary confusion about what garment
this was before context made it clear. I still have a spelling
pronunciation of it in my own lexicon.

NB the variation in my preterite of _learn_, in the first lines of
paragraphs 1 and 4 above, which I wrote, noticed, considered changing, and
finally left for your delectation.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
     (mobile) +44 (0)771 853 5634
Fax  +44 (0)1904 432673


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