Diana Sheron Fingar df632694 at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sat Feb 12 19:30:33 UTC 2000


I think Mr. Cohen is wrong about "wooch" coming from a childish tendency
to rhyme things. I do not recall rhyming anything like that when I was a
kid (not very long ago), nor do I remember anybody else doing so, and I
don't even recall hearing kids I babysat for doing it when I was a little
older. The "childish" rhyming tended to be done by adults talking down to
kids or being silly, except in certain set phrases like "The itsy-bitsy
spider" or "Georgie-Porgie, pudden and pie" -- which, incidentally are
taught to children by adults. Perhaps this rhyming is more common in other
parts of the country (I grew up in Mississippi and Ohio), or perhaps it
was more common when Mr. Cohen was young.

My theory, for what it's worth, is that "wooch" comes from the way the
question is asked. I know that I almost never say "Would you give me the
pencil?" unless I am being very formal indeed. It usually comes out more
like "/wU(j-hachek)a gIv mi (small theta)i p(backwards 3)ncIl/?"
Sometimes, the first word is more like /wU(c-hachek)a/, and sometime the
final vowel is more of a schwa than an /a/--it all depends on who I'm
asking for what and what I'm doing. If I want them to "hand" rather than
"give," I tend to run the last sound of one and the first sound of the
other together, like this: "/wou(j-hachek)a:nd mI.../?" Depending on how I
then "punctuated" the sentence (with verbal pauses and inflection), the
final result might come out more like "Wooch, 'and me the pencil." -- as a
command adressed to "wooch," in much the same way as you might say
"Waiter, give me more coffee." From there, it's pretty easy to see how
someone might get to "I'm not your wooch," (or "I'm not your waiter.")
This is a reference the person who issued the command would instantly get
if they replayed the conversation in their head, as opposed to a
"poochie-woochie" derivation which takes a fair amount of explaining. In
the example provided, the request even uses "hand," although I am at a bit
of a loss to explain how the phonological difficulty would arise with
"please" in there.

Of course, I'm just an undergrad and my major isn't even linguisitcs, so
you can disregard this if you like.

Diana Fingar

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