antedating "hobo" 1885

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 27 02:44:57 UTC 2009

On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 5:06 AM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
>> >>Hmm...For me, that's not <CoCo> but <C [diphthong]o>
>> >
>> >Sorry; I've been using angle brackets for written forms. <CoCo> means
>> >a word written as any consonant letter + "o" + a consonant letter +
>> >"o", and I'm looking from the perspective of a reader of the cite.
>> Well, technically, I would argue that in <boyo>, the <y> is not a
>> "consonant letter", but a vowel letter, which is why I invoked the
>> diphthonginess factor. Ā (Weren't we always taught that the vowels are
>> "a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y"? Ā And isn't this one of those times?
>> Or is that just for "cycle", "by", and such?) Ā So if the boyo is
>> wearing a diphthong, he's got only one consonant letter to his name.
> I don't think the 1885 readers of the cite would have been thinking in
> those terms.

Why not?  Consciously or not they would have to divide it somewhere,
and there only seem to be two choices: boy-o and bo-yo.  If you think
1885 readers would favor the latter (if I'm understanding you
correctly that way), I'm curious as to why you would think so.

Growing up, I was taught "a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y", and
was always puzzled as to why "w" was included because while it's
common for "y" to be a vowel by itself, the only words that I could
find where "w" was a vowel by itself were Welsh words like "cwm" or
"cwtch", and I couldn't imagine that such obscure words would be
included in the "rule".  It wasn't until I started writing a reading
textbook that I realized the rule must be referring to the
combinations "ow", "ew", and "aw", but if that's so, then what about
"l" and "r" in "walk", or "more"?

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society -

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