Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 15:13:01 -0500
Subject: Re: "poor" for "pore" etc.

Peter McGraw wrote:

My aunt once told me about a woman of her acquaintance who would "poor" water
out of a pitcher. My aunt said she
asked her once what she called people who didn't have any money, and she said,
"Oh, you mean pore people?" I have
no information as to where this was.

I wonder to what degree this swap was in the ears of the beholder. It is, or
was, quite common to represent
"Brooklynese" in print by swapping "oi" and "er": "I hoid ya needed some
T'ree-In-One Erl." Rather than being swapped, it
may be the case that the speaker merges the two sounds to something that is
phonetically between the hearer's
expectations, and the hearer's reaction and analysis, if conscious and put into
words, would go something like this,
using the linear scale of integers to represent a range of n-dimensional
acoustic space:

"I use /1/ in this word, and it sounds like [1] when I say it, but this person
is saying the word with [3]. That's not a sound I
would use at all, but it's off in the direction of /5/. I guess this person uses
/5/ where I use /1/."

The same process -- I hesitate to call it "logic" -- would map "oi" into "er"
and "er" into "oi", or "or" into "Ur" and "Ur" into
"or". (Try saying dat t'ree times fast!)

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :