one-time "whenever", live

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Sep 5 14:20:39 UTC 2007

"Rift" is unfamiliar to me too.

  When I was in college I discovered a large number of synonyms for throwing up, especially as the result of overimbibing.  One of those synonyms was to "ralph." (Exx. began appearing print about 1967 and are still common.)

  But in 1972, an NYU student told me that "A _ralph_ can be a belch, as a noun. I knew a guy [in 1969] whenever he had to belch he'd go [_drops voice to lowest register_] 'Ra-a-a-a-lph!'"  That's the only ex. of nominal "ralph" = "belch" that I've encountered, though another student also told me that "ralph," v., "means to 'barf' or it can mean 'burp,' too."

  I suggest an etymological connection between "ralph" and "rift."


  "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Re: one-time "whenever", live

> > This is not too uncommon in casual speech around here (Pittsburgh area).
> >
> > -- Doug Wilson
> >
> >
>If not, it must be a relatively recent phee-nom. I grew up in Pittsburgh
>and have never heard it. True, I moved away decades ago, but I've visited
>many times since.

I doubt it's recent. One's mileage may vary. When I say "not too
uncommon" I suppose I mean I hear it once a month or so and no longer
do a double-take. Maybe if I looked into it I'd find that it's
usually from one of a given five persons or something like that, I
don't know. I don't mean that I hear it right and left every day and
start to do it myself ... like the "needs washed" construction. (^_^)

When I moved here 18 years ago, I was most impressed by "rift" =
"belch", which (unlike the above things) I had AFAIK NEVER
encountered anywhere else. I did an experiment and indeed "rift"
outnumbered "belch" and "burp" and some other alternatives (small
data set overall though). But one day when I was swapping shibboleths
with several locals and I mentioned "rift" one ordinary man who had
lived his whole 25-30 years around here said he'd never heard the
word before (all the others knew it for sure).

-- Doug Wilson

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