Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 27 03:46:59 UTC 2008

Do you remember the special iue of CLS entitled

"Chicago Which Hunt"?

I had to have it explained to me that this title was a pun. I told the
person who attempted to explain it to me that I understood it, but I
was lying. For me, the claim that /hw/ could be replaced by /w/ by a
native speaker of English was nonsense. There was no way that such a
title could be a pun. At the Army Language School, a barracksmate once
asked whether I had noticed that the "h" in words beginning with "wh"
was not pronounced. I was stunned by the utter inanity of the
question, since such was clearly not the case. But, since my
questioner was a well-known dipshit, I laughed the question off as
some kind of stupid attempt at a joke.

Once upon a time, I would have told you that the only BE speakers who
said things like "scrimp" (shrimp), "screek," (street}, and used a
glo?al stop a la some users of Britspeak were hicks from the backwoods
of Wake County, North Carolina, who raised hogs or grew tobacco for
their high-school senior theses.

Nowadays, I have to pay active attention to context in order to
distinguish between words with "wh-" and those with "w-." And a black
person who uses glo?al stops could be from any number of places, urban
as well as rural. I feel like that English barmaid who, behind the
curve of the Great Vowel Shift, served an eel to a patron who had
ordered an ale.

Oh, well. What can you do? I almost regret the fact that I'll probably
live to see another quarter-century of language deterioration.
Language *change*, I mean, of course. (My father lived to be 97 and my
mother still lives, at the age of 96.)


On 1/26/08, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: twoth
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ah, but they're not confusable in context, /wIC/ is all that matters.
> m a m
> On Jan 25, 2008 1:53 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
> > Thanks! FWIW, Czech still uses the historical spelling, "kde."
> > Considering that "kde" and "gde" have the same pronunciation in
> > Russian, you'd expect that it, too, would have retained the historical
> > spelling. But, of course, who knows from languages? Why are /hw/ and
> > /w/ falling together as [w] in English, despite the fact that it
> > introduces confusion - i.e. "which" v. "witch" - where once there was
> > none?
> >
> > -Wilson
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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