[Ads-l] Heard: "Hey, is this one of ?_ours's_/?_ourses'_ birthdays?"

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue May 24 12:11:43 EDT 2016

--- brewerwa at gmail.com wrote:

From: W Brewer <brewerwa at gmail.com>
To: JJJRLandau at netscape.com
Cc: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Heard: "Hey, is this one of ?_ours's_/?_ourses'_ birthdays?"
Date: Tue, 24 May 2016 22:23:05 +0800

JAL:  << (Note that the composer of this quatrain was under the impression
that "smithy" was a variant form of "smith") >>

WB:  OTOH, what worries me is the relationship of <Mr. Smith> to its
nickname <Smitty>. The theta became a flap.    ?? {<Smith> + diminutive
<-y> + Irish brogue} became <Smitty> ??   Makes ya wonder ...  But we

Reply from JAL (James Allan Landau) What worries me is how Jacob (Hebrew /ya 'kov/) became James (the adjective for King James I is "Jacobean" unless you mean the KJV; the adjective for James II is "Jacobite").

There are a number of not-obvious phonetic transitions from names to nicknames.  

"Robert" became "Bob", but Ronald did not become "Bonald" or "Bon"; "Richard" became "Rick" and "Dick" but not "Bick".  

"Maggie" from "Margaret" seems plausible, but "Peggy"? (I had a coworker whose wife, from Germany, was named "Ursula" and nicknamed "Peggy".  He told me that "Peggy" was a common German nickname for "Ursula".)

"William" became "Bill"  but "Winston" et al did not become "Bin-" and "Walter" did not become "Balt".

Off-topic:  My middle name "Allan" (less common spelling; my first cousin has middle name "Alan"):  is it from Celtic, or from the name o the Alans, an Indo-European people originally living along the Volga, but scattered by the Huns throughout Europe and North Africa?

   - James Allan Landau

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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