Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Nov 19 20:14:43 UTC 2008

On Nov 19, 2008, at 11:30 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "cumberbund"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> arnold, if you can find a random black person or a random Southerner
> of any race who doesn't say "cumberbund," I'll kiss your ass on the
> courthouse lawn and give you 45 minutes to draw a crowd. "Matlock" is
> set in the South, right? And Andy Griffith is from the South, right?
> You remind me of that GI from Darien, CT, who was stunned to hear a
> Southerner say, "Git _you_ a tray!"

i didn't say i was stunned by it, nor did i deprecate it.  having
noticed it (not for the first time, let me add) i went to see what the
dictionaries had to say about it.  and was a bit surprised that so few
of them had it.  perhaps i should have exclaimed more loudly, instead
of just reporting what i found flatly.

in addition, as i've said here many times before, i can't possibly be
expected to know the social and regional distributions of all variants
in english.  it's really rude to piss on me for not knowing some facts
that you know.

i think, but i'm not sure, that neither "cummerbund" nor "cumberbund"
is in DARE, but perhaps someone who is  closer to a copy of the
dictionary than i am right now could check.

it now looks like "cumberbund" might be sufficiently widespread that
it should be listed as a variant in more dictionaries.

it's clear that a fair number of people think that the word *is*
"cumberbund".  so we have yet another situation where different people
take different variants to be the *right* one and are somewhat
surprised when they come across the other variant (as Mark Velasco was
in this case).  if both variants are sufficiently widespread, then
they should just be treated as alternatives (and the history is no
longer relevant, though of course it might be interesting in its own


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