spelling the interlabial trill

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 28 02:15:04 UTC 2009

I found the following while looking up the name of Al Capp's character
Joe Bftsplk:

Al Capp, creator of Li'l Abner, spelled it BFTSPLK. I know this
because one time on the Johnny Carson show he was discussing the
character in his strip who walked around with a cloud always over his
head. The world's unluckiest man. His name was Mr. Bftsplk (a close
relation to one of the characters in the Superman comics). Johnny
tried for a phonetic pronunciation, and Capp interrupted with a loud
raspberry noise. It soon became clear that Mr. Bftsplk's name was
pronounced thusly. Johnny protested that you don't spell a raspberry
sound "Bftsplk," and Capp asked him "So how do you spell it?"

I'd never thought of that, always having pronounced it as it's
written. The only (semi-)conventionalized spelling I know of for the
raspberry is something like BPPPPPPPPPTTTTTTTTHHHH, with the order and
number of the letters varying... and of course you can't Google bp+t+h
and get anything useful. Has anyone studied it? Just curious.

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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