whence BUCK NAKED?

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Apr 7 14:25:26 UTC 2004

It might be useful or interesting to look at the 'buck ~ butt naked' thing from
a phonetic point of view.  Whichever one came first, it seems to me that the
other one could have resulted from false reconstruction of something that would
be phonetically realised [b^ neikId] or [b^? neikId] (where <^> = wedge, <?> =
glottal stop, <I> = lax high front unrounded vowel, as in 'dInIs' :-) ).

In other words, 'butt naked' could come out with a glottal stop for the /t/,
[b^? neikId], and 'buck naked' could come out as [b^ neikId], probably with an
unreleased [t] after the wedge (which I can't transcribe in this font;
apologies).  Either realisation could be interpreted as having only silence
between the wedge and the [n]:  a plausible context for reinterpretation.

>From there it becomes entirely plausible either to reanalyse 'uncouth' 'butt
naked' as something more seemly, or, if it was the other way around, to
reanalyse 'buck naked', which might have lost its obvious meaning, as the more
obviously nakedness-connected 'butt naked'.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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