Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Wed Dec 13 16:06:48 UTC 2006

Hey, dInIs, you know you're feeding the "SAE" ego of our prescriptivist
correspondent, don't you?!  I doubt that he'll get your irony.

But anyway, another nice merger example was said by (the other) Dennis the
Menace some years ago:  Dennis was looking at some reindeer on a Xmas
display and asked, "Which one is Olive the other reindeer?"  Most of my
students, mergers and non-mergers alike, don't get this joke either.  Ditto
for a similar cartoon on picking out a "naughty pine" Xmas tree.  'Tis the


At 10:08 AM 12/13/2006, you wrote:
>In Alberta somewhere I saw a car lot named Otto's Autos. Since I am a
>speaker of Standard English, it took me a bit to get the joke too.
>I also remember way back in foreign language teaching when the
>oral/aural method was touted, and, again, someone had to explain to
>me that it was funy that they sounded the same; of course; they don't
>for those of us who care about the language (no more than for-four or
>horse-hoarse do)
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
>>Subject:      auto/Otto
>>Last night on NCIS (CBS-TV), the murderer was an AI-operated robotic
>>car named Otto.  My wife had to explain the joke to me, since it
>>never occurred that "Otto" and "auto" would be pronounced alike.
>>Once I grasped the joke, however, it seemed pretty funny:  ANY car
>>(of course) is an auto, but Otto was an auto auto.
>>The American Dialect Society -
>It should be the chief aim of a university professor to exhibit
>himself in his own true character - that is, as an ignorant man [sic]
>thinking, actively utilizing his small share of knowledge. Alfred
>North Whitehead
>There are many different religions in this world, but if you look at
>them carefully, you'll see that they all have one thing in common:
>They were invented by a giant, superintelligent slug named Dennis.
>Homer Simpson
>Dennis R. Preston
>University Distinguished Professor
>Department of English
>15-C Morrill Hall
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing, MI 48824-1036
>Phone: (517) 353-4736
>Fax: (517) 353-3755
>preston at
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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