/zink/ for "sink"--How widespread?

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Thu Apr 10 16:26:55 UTC 2003

At 09:03 AM 4/10/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>This pronunciation is common on Tangier Is. and is supposed to resemble the
>west country of their native England.  Any spread westward (IL, NE) might
>be considered as derived from the Chesapeake Bay or directly from the west
>of Englond.
>--On Wednesday, April 9, 2003 11:46 PM -0400 "Douglas G. Wilson"
><douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
>>>How widespread is the pronunciation of /zink/ for "sink" (where dishes
>>>are washed)?
>>I don't recall ever hearing it myself.
>>Quick Web search indicates that the pronunciation "zinc" for "sink" is
>>considered by some to be a shibboleth of the Baltimore region, or the
>>MD/DE/VA region.
>>I find at a glance two instances of "sink" actually written "zinc", one
>>apparently from a Nebraskan in the 1940's, the other from Illinois in the
>>Possibilities would include pronunciation from German or perhaps from some
>>British dialect (?). However, if the /s/>/z/ is restricted to this single
>>word, I would speculate that the word might be in fact basically "zinc",
>>either because the word "sink" was taken to be an abbreviation of "zinc
>>basin" or "zincked tub" or something like that, or because "zinc sink" was
>>consciously contracted: back in the day, a zinc/zincked (i.e., galvanized)
>>sink was a conventional household/kitchen item, I believe.
>>-- Doug Wilson
>"Practice random acts of intelligence and senseless acts of self-control"

When I first met my ex-mother-in-law from Baltimore and heard her say
"zinc," I looked over to the sink to see if it was made of zinc (it wasn't,
as far as I could tell).  I knew nothing about dialect variation at the
time, obviously.  But I suppose the earlier imported pronunciation could
have led to a lexical reanalysis as non-English (or non-German?) settlers
moved in and heard the term.

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