antedating "donkey"

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Feb 18 14:03:41 UTC 2013

In the 1980s and 1990s (and perhaps later), there was a "retort" rhyme used by white children on Georgia playgrounds:  "I'm a honkey, you're a donkey; I smell sweet, and you smell funky."  All three rhyming words with "open o," as far as I'm aware.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Laurence Horn [laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2013 3:51 PM

On Feb 17, 2013, at 2:56 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 8:47 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
>> Dunkey
> Assuming [d^NkI], it matches the BE pronunciation of "donkey," as
> opposed to, e.g. BE "hunky" [hONkI].
> --
> -Wilson

I pronounce it that way too (well, actually, [d^Nki]), rhyming with "monkey", and get teased for it (e.g. by my children).  I think in my case it may simply have arisen as a spelling pronunciation, caused precisely by the fact that it *is* spelled like the more familiar (to me) "monkey".  I certainly didn't realize it was a diminutive of "Duncan"--but that will be useful to bring up next time I'm teased about it.


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