[Ads-l] Awe-dropping revisited?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 17 02:05:08 EDT 2017


> On Mar 16, 2017, at 7:57 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> I'm not sure why Larry thinks the intro is not Ira Gershwin's…

Because when I googled the intro I got (at sites like the one linked below) an entirely different version from the one Ella sings (and apparently the one sung by Adele Astaire, which I hadn’t heard either live or via YouTube):

Life has just begun,
Jack has found his Jill 
Don't know what you've done
But I'm all a-thrill
How could words express
Your divine appeal?
You can never guess
All the love I feel
From now on, Lady darling, I insist
For me no other girls exist

No “awe” or “aah”, or “blah” for that matter, or any of the truncations.  I confess I’m a bit confused about the duelling intros.  It is interesting indeed that while Ira discussing the “clipping syllables from favored words” resulting in “fash”/“pash” and “emosh”/“devosh”, as well as the use of the ’s enclitic (without using that particular term, to be sure), he doesn’t mention the “fills me with ahh/awe” in the final couplet.  But still, why the two different intros?  What gives?

Or maybe the original original version had both “intros”, as different verses.  Other versions on the web have other lines not usually sung, e.g.

She makes my life so tinglish 
I'll even overlook her English

Anyway, thanks, Ben.  I stand semi-corrected, if terminally confused.

LH




> 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.
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aQ5uqreUOM
> (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!"
> 
> https://books.google.com/books?id=A9D2zWO7kygC&pg=PA252
> 
> 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>
> wrote:
> 
>> 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&*
>> 
>> 
>> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
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