to "niff"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Sep 7 18:08:46 UTC 2007

My daughter, when small, pronounced "sniff" as "niff", finding the segue between the S and the N beyond what her chops could manage.

I'm not offering this as an antedating to 1930 -- the poor girl is feeling old enough these days, having just turned 40 -- but am suggesting that "niff" could be common baby-talk.  (I forget what my son did with "sniff".)


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
Date: Thursday, September 6, 2007 8:16 pm
Subject: to "niff"

> Latest OED online has this British v. as "to sniff" from 1952. Here's
> one considerably earlier:
>   1930 C. R. Benstead _Retreat_ (N.Y.: Century) 124 [ref. to 1918]:
> Like an ol' bull when e' [sic] niffs a bit o' cow.
>   JL
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