early "tits"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 11 15:10:21 UTC 2014

On Jun 11, 2014, at 1:15 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> "bubs"
> I didn't come across this particular use of the sound, [b^bz], till I was
> about to graduate from high school in 1954. Since it was spoken be a fellow
> colored fellow, I thought that he had said "bulbs." However, context made
> clear that he was talking about the breasts of a girl on the bus with us
> and, of course, "bulbs" makes  perfect semantic sense.
> As it happen, this was a hapax. After years of never hearing this spoken,
> again - still true as of this nanosecond - while, thanks to the loosing of
> the bonds of censorship, finding many hundreds of examples of "bubs" in
> print and none of "bulbs" in the relevant sense, I have come to realize
> that there is no slang-term, "bulbs," meaning "breasts," in B, or in any
> other variety of, E.
> Why not, I wonder? It's so obvious and the two words, in some dialects, are
> indistinguishable.

Well, there's "headlights".  Not as phonetically similar as "bulbs", perhaps, but same idea…


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