[Ads-l] Awe-dropping revisited?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 16 22:18:05 EDT 2017


As y’all will recall, we’ve discussed the inevitability and/or (for at least one of our subscribers) the tragedy of speakers coming to conflate open-o with /a/, whence “awe-dropping”.  As an old east-coaster, I keep my own “cot"s distinct from my “caught”s, but I recognize that most other U.S. English speakers don’t.  

In any case, I was listening to an album on one of Delta’s audio channels on which a woman performs a Broadway show tunes medley.  I didn’t record who the singer was, but one of her selections was the Gershwins’ “’S Wonderful” from “Funny Face”. The intro, I now see on the web, was not Ira Gershwin’s but does appear in the same form in Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition, which you can here her perform here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDxrKlQPZ2M

The transcription, at http://www.metrolyrics.com/s-wonderful-lyrics-ella-fitzgerald.html, reads as follows (complete with the indicated truncaysh' of each line in the quatrain).  It’s the couplet that’s crucial, though. 

================
Don't mind telling you, in my humble fash
That you thrill me through, with a tender pash
When you said you care 'magine my emoshe
I swore then and there, permanent devoshe

You made all other men seem blah
Just you alone filled me with ah
================

In both Ella’s version and the one I heard on the plane, the couplet rhymes “blah” not with “ah” (which makes no sense at all—filled me with “ah”? Really?) but with “awe”.  Pronounced, however, /a:/ to rhyme with /bla:/.  (More like script /a/, technically.).  So, awe-dropping in action?  

As a true New Yawka, I assume Ira Gershwin would not have rhymed “blah” with “awe”, but then neither appears in *his* intro verse, as you can see at 
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=s+wonderful+ira+gershwin+lyrics&*

LH

 

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


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