[Ads-l] Awe-dropping revisited?

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 16 22:57:24 EDT 2017

I'm not sure why Larry thinks the intro is not Ira Gershwin's... it was
there from the beginning, as can be heard in the 1928 recording with Adele
Astaire (Fred's sister), who had first sung "'S Wonderful" on Broadway the
previous year.

(skip the first 1:20 or so, which is Bernard Clifton's part)

Adele sings it not as "filled me with awe" but as an exultant "...aaahhh!"

In the Ira Gershwin anthology _Lyrics on Several Occasions_, it's
transcribed as (small-caps) "aah!"


I take it as a pun on "awe," and the unmerged "aah" makes the wordplay work.

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:18 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> 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&*

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