"folk" with an L [re-send]

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 15 00:20:41 UTC 2010

At 1:34 AM -0500 3/14/10, Wilson Gray wrote:
>My late stepfather, a St. Louisan thoughout his life, used "ellum" and
>"fillum" for "elm" and "film." I've never heard anyone else use these
>pronunciations in real life, though I'm familiar with them from
A brief excerpt from our "/l/ vocalization" thread almost exactly 2 years ago:

From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Date: Thursday, March 20, 2008 11:48 pm
Subject: Re: /l/ vocalization

At 10:59 PM -0400 3/20/08, Mark Mandel wrote:
>On Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 6:28 AM, Dennis Preston <preston at msu.edu> wrote:
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>The only person that I've ever met who used things like "fillim" and
>"ellem" in his normal speech was my late stepfather, a native of Saint
>Louis of mixed African-American and European-American Arkansan
>>  Wilson,
>  > I've always taken these to be hypercorrections by those of us who
>>  vocalilze our postvocallic /l/s. They were very common pronunciations
>>  in my parts of the South Midlands (Southern IL & IN, and Northern and
>>  Western KY among older working class speakers, white and black.
>"Ellum" is attested from New England 150 years ago:
>>  The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum," --
>>  Last of its timber, -- they could n't sell 'em,

A lot older than Deep Ellum Blues.  But those blues are named for the
eponymous street and neighborhood in Dallas--how far back does that


to which George A. Thompson responded:

Date:         Fri, 21 Mar 2008 00:15:44 -0400
From: George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Subject:      Re: /l/ vocalization

There was a book on Dallas' Deep Ellum a while ago:
Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of
Dallas Converged, by Alan B. Govenar and Jay F. Brakefield,
University of North Texas Press, c1998.

My spelling checker offered to correct "ellum" to "ell um" -- I
didn't know that spell checkers could have speech impediments.



If we're back to l-vocalization around the spring equinox in 2012,
we'll need to come up with an explanation for the pattern.


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