Not quite, but quite close

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Fri Feb 10 16:03:42 UTC 2006

Funny, I read Wilson's post as a comment on the diphthong in "going"
having an unexpected nucleus /OI/ rather than /aI/, not the non-standard
/w/ onset. I'm more familiar with this alternation in British than
American dialectology (Labov's LINE/LOIN stuff), but it does occur
elsewhere. Of course, as the spelling "gwine" *is* stereotypical, it
doesn't tell us anything about what the actual vowel nucleus was in
these interviews.

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> A quick search of the WPA Slave Narratives here:
>   reveals 100 interviews featuring the spelling "gwine."  The interviews were carried out in most of the Southern states, but the majority of the "gwines" seem to be from South Carolina and Arkansas.
>   Yeah, yeah, the spelling may have been influenced by literary stereotypes, but the continued exisence of [gwOin] as documented by Wilson (and maybe DARE - I haven't had a chance to look) strongly suggests that at least some of the former slaves really did say "gwine" or something like it.
>   JL
> Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Wilson Gray
> Subject: Not quite, but quite close
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A black woman on this morning's Springer:
> "We _[gwOin]_ through the same thing."
> This woman also pronounced the second syllable of "confuse" as though
> it was the second syllable of French "confuse." I.e. she pronounced
> [yu] as front rounded [ΓΌ] or as German umlaut "ue." I've also heard
> many, many, many instances of [Cyu] > [Cru], e.g. [k at nfyuz] >
> [k at nfruz], in BE.
> This is quite interesting, given Portuguese "frasco" vs. Italian
> "fiasco." Although there's no reason to doubt that Late Latin (or
> Proto-Romance, etc.) /ClV/ went directly to Portuguese [CrV], /ClV/ >
> /CyV] > [CrV] is now seen as a possibility.
> -Wilson Gray

Alice Faber                                    faber at
Haskins Laboratories                           tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                        fax (203) 865-8963

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