[Ads-l] Kibosh = kurbash (whip) in ca. 1830 Penal Servitude

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Jul 11 21:08:48 UTC 2018

A digression. I wonder about the phonetic developments in "kibosh". 
Pardon me if some of this is in the book (only partly readable by me, of 


Question #1:

I assume the Cohen-Goranson-Little theory has English "kibosh" 
pronounced "KYE-bosh" (/kajbaS/ or /kajbOS/) with first-syllable stress 
derived from Turkish/Arabic "kurbash". Then what is the explanation for 
the change in the stressed syllable from "kur-" (presumably /kUr/ or 
/k at r/ in English) to "kye-" (/kaj/)?

My question is NOT merely "Where did the 'r' go?"; this would be the 
very easy part. My question is: whence /kaj/? Ignoring loss of the /r/, 
I suppose one could invoke the coil-curl merger and then the line-loin 
merger or something like that. For comparison, can anyone point out an 
English (preferably 19th century UK) dialect wherein (e.g.) "curb" is 
pronounced "kybe" /kajb/?

[I am using Kirshenbaum ASCII IPA as I have done in the past.]

A subsidiary question: would the assumed or hypothesized development 
have been

(1) Turkish/Arabic "kurbash" > English "kurbash" (rhotic or not) > 
English "kibosh"


(2) Turkish/Arabic "kurbash" > Non-English "kibosh" > English "kibosh"


(3) something more complicated?

I note that (1) and (2) are favored by the known existence of the 
different words (non-English "kibosh" implied by the italicized "kibosh" 
in the 1892 book "Sultan to Sultan" quoted in the Cohen &al. book).

Perhaps someone expert in phonetics could add something.


Question #2:

What about the alternative pronunciation "ka-BOSH" (/k at baS/ or /k at bOS/) 
with second-syllable stress? I suppose possibilities would include

(1) spelling pronunciation (with development in either direction),

(2) separate development from distinct etyma with later conflation.

Any thoughts?


--- Doug Wilson

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

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