Not quite, but quite close

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 10 23:30:42 UTC 2006

I was commenting on the [w]. The pronunciation that I consider to be
"standard," i.e. the way that I pronounce it, in BE is like [gOIn].
The [i] in my original post is a slip. As for "gwine," I have heard it
as [gwain], but I've heard it most often with the long vowel for which
I have no symbol, but which, in eye-dialect, is usually represented as

I once had occasion to chat for a few minutes with someone who, to my
ear, actually did use the stereotypical [a] and who also used the
stereotypical, "Wah, ah swahn!" I know that she was from Georgia, but
her phenotype was such that I couldn't tell whether she was black or
white on the basis of our very brief, one-on-one interaction.

BTW, if anybody is interested, it's possible to go to the iTunes store
and listen to songs by Memphis Minnie, who is a representative "gwine"
user. Or you can go to, etc. and do the same thing.


On 2/10/06, Alice Faber <faber at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Alice Faber <faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU>
> Organization: Haskins Laboratories
> Subject:      Re: Not quite, but quite close
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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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