Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 10:51:11 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UMR.EDU
Subject: "poor" for "pore" etc.

On Feb. 17 Peter McGraw presented the following interesting information:

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've noticed at least two other instances of similar sound switches. A
professor of mine years back told me that a woman he once spoke to made the
following derogatory remark about someone lacking upbringing/good manners:
"He was barn in a born."

Also, there's the well known switch of "oi" for "ir" in some immigrant
speech in NYC, e.g. "She's a poil of a goil." But the reverse change
occurs in some speakers--those who say "erl" for "oil" (the fuel) and
"berl" for "boil." I specifically remember hearing someone say "I berled an
egg." I think I also heard this sort of pronunciation from the TV
character Archie Bunker.

At one point I had been under the impression that sound changes go in
only one direction at a time.. A double switch of the type "poor" to
"pore" and "pore" to "poor" (in different words) seems to present some sort
of an anomaly in this picture.

--Gerald Cohen