G-ful "gnu"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jan 28 03:27:18 UTC 2013

At 1/27/2013 03:23 PM, Damien Hall wrote:
>In British English, "gnu" is usually g-ful - /g at nu:/ - so Flanders &
>Swann were using their native pronunciation.  I'd never heard it any
>other way until I went to live in the States!

But they're having too much fun with that pronunciation!  I attach
the complete lyrics of "The G-nu Song", in one transcription:

Flanders: A year ago, last Thursday, I was strolling in
the zoo,
When I met a man who thought he knew the lot.
He was laying down the law about the habits of baboons,
And the number of quills a porcupine has got.

So I asked him, "What's that creature there?". He
answered, "Oh, it's a h-elk".
I might have gone on thinking that was true.
If the animal in question hadn't put that chap to
And remarked, "I h-ain't a h-elk. I'm a g-nu".

"I'm a g-nu,
I'm a g-nu,
The g-nicest work of g-nature in the zoo.
I'm a g-nu,
How do you do?
You really ought to k-now w-ho's w-ho."

"I'm a g-nu, spelt G-N-U.
I'm g-not a camel or a kangaroo.
So let me introduce,
I'm g-neither man or moose,
Oh, g-know, g-know, g-know,
I'm a g-nu!"

I had taken furnished lodgings down at Rustington-On-
Whence I travelled on to Ashton-Under-Lime it was
And the second night I stayed there I was wakened from
a dream,
Which I'll tell you all about... some other time.

Among the hunting trophies on the wall above my bed,
Stuffed and mounted, was a face I thought I knew.
A bison? No, it's not a bison. An ocapi? It's unlikely,
Could it be a hartebeest?
When I seemed to hear a voice: "I'm a... g-nu..."

"I'm a g-nu,
A g-nother g-nu!
I wish I could g-nash my teeth at you.
I'm a g-nu,
How do you do?
You really ought to k-now w-ho's w-ho."

"I'm a g-nu, spelt G-N-U,
Call me 'bison' or 'ocapi' and I'll sue.
G-nor am I in the least,
Like that dreadful hartebeest,
Oh, g-no, g-no, g-no...
G-know, g-know, g-know, I'm a g-nu...
G-know, g-know, g-know, I'm a g-nu!

(Long applause)

Flanders: That's very g-nice of you.

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

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