_Skank_ = "female slut"?!

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 24 03:00:23 UTC 2010

Whoa! Let a word out its cultural cage and it goes buck-wild!

When I was a child, I used to wonder whether the word should be
spelled "skink" or "skank," given that either spelling yields the same
pronunciation. That question has recently - from my point of view -
been resolved. OTOH, it's easy to find examples of a similar word
spelled both "hinky" and "hanky" and pronounced, by white TV actors,
at least, according the standard rules for "hinky" only as [hINki].
Both possible pronunciations of the spelling "hinky" are in BE. It's
like [i]conomic v. [E]conomic. There's an old blues whose title varies
between Mean and Hanky and Mean and Hinky, according to the individual
producer's Sprachgefuehl, no doubt. It is the case though, that,
regardless of my childhood ruminations on the correct spelling, the
pronunciation that matches the spelling, "skank," is the only one that
I've ever heard, across time. "Skink" is only the name of a legless

Despite the fact that I'm probably the only person in the
English-speaking world who's wasted an instant of thought on how skank
might be spelled, if it was ever written down, as the ELO sang, "I
can't get it off of my mind. Oh no, no, no, no, no." I should follow
Miss Snows advice and take a "chew pew" WRT this topic.

On MTV's Jersey Shore, a guidette called a 29-year-old guido who had
picked up a twenty-year-old girl a "male slut."

I "remember" that "guido" came into my vocab in the mid-'90's from a
straight-to-cable film called something like The Guido(s). However,
I've found no evidence that there was ever an American film with such
a title in the '90's or at any other time, despite the fact I can
remember whole scenes from it. So, I can only guess that Guido/guido
somehow figured prominently in the film everywhere but in the title.

OTOH, from Saturday Night Fever, I recall only

If you do it with a nigger,
Will it make it any bigger?

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list