"put the 'Kibosh on 'em" (antedating, 1834)

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Fri May 21 06:25:58 UTC 2010

Several theories--/v~w/ merger could simply be a native sound change
local to London and other Southeastern English dialects, going back
at least to Early Modern English times (and I think it's attested in
Middle English too)--in which case it developed justlike Scandinavian
and German /v/ did, as both were originally /w/'s; there could have
been Flemish or even French influence involved--the first would lead
to an in-between sound, a voiced bilabial fricative [beta], which
could turn into either a /v/ or a /w/ over time, the second perhaps
to a /v/, since a /v/ but no /w/ existed in Parisian French (though
Norman had/has a /w/), or--and this is the theory of Patricia Poussa,
who has worked a lot on Norfolk speech, which constitutes the
northern edge of the phenomenon, it could go back to Norsemen, either
in the main Viking invasions or among a Scandinavian element in the
early settlers of East Anglia.  My bet would be on native sound
change, myself.

it disappeared rather quickly during the mid-to-late nineteenth
century in Cockney, though it was a stereotype for years (compare New
York City's [@i] in bird, shirt and what has happened to it).  I
think Ellis (1889) mentions it as a stereotype, but SED has none only
traces in the Southeeastern countryside--rural Kent and Sussex
mostly, and with both /v./ for /w/ and /w/ for /v/ too.  I've
mentioned that it may have come over here (as /w/ for /v/) in New
York City and vicinity, where there were a lot of Cockney and
Southeastern settlers-- ["we live ovuh da wyeduck, down by da winega
woiks" (old vaudeville song)], though Germans and Yiddish speakers
could have reinforced it by the time the song came out.  It may well
go back, though.

Paul Johnston
On May 20, 2010, at 9:44 PM, Sam Clements wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Sam Clements <SClements at NEO.RR.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "put the 'Kibosh on 'em" (antedating, 1834)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> Gerald,
> Thanks for this.  I"m an amatuer in the game.  No professional
> credentials.
> Now I'm curious.  Where exactly did the Cockneys get this form?
> sam
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at MST.EDU>
> Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 21:12
> Subject: Re: "put the 'Kibosh on 'em" (antedating, 1834)
> Forms such as "vich" for "which" or "vork" for "work" are a feature of
> Cockney speech. They are not necessarily eastern European/German.
> Gerald Cohen
> ________________________________
>  Original message from Sam Clements, Thu 5/20/2010 8:04 PM
> <snip>.
> Notice the same pattern of an eastern European/German dialect being
> used.
> "which=vich." and
> so on and so on.
> Sam Clements
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Stephen Goranson" <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 20:24
> Subject: "put the 'Kibosh on 'em" (antedating, 1834)
>> Charles Dickens wrote "...put the kibosk on her, Mary" in 1836.
>> Here is an apparent antedating.
>> Observer [London], Sunday Nov. 30, 1834, p. 4 col. 4.
>> Retirement of the Late Ministry Explained
>> ....Mr. Dyer put the moderate fine of one shilling and costs on both
>> defendants-- "Ah!" said Smith, as he left the office, this here
>> hact vos
>> the vork of the Vigs, and now the Duke of Vellington as put the
>> 'Kibosh'
>> on 'em, vich they never would have got if they hadn't passed it;
>> that's
>> vat floored 'em.
>> Stephen Goranson
>> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
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