Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 09:49:11 +0900


Subject: Re: waft

Let the record be set straight. . .

The answer to my colleague Dr. Preston's question (conditional statement?) is "no".

Louisvillians are NOT southerners. They are yankees, as any true, God-fearin' Southerner could

tell you. (I woulda said "damn yankees" 'cept this is the innernet and we cain't say "damn" on

the innernet.)

As for Dale Coye's question, "waft" most certainly does rhyme with "raft" in West Tennessee. It

may be pronounced in other ways in places where English is spoken with an accent, mind you, but

in West Tennessee (where English is spoken with absolutely no accent whatsoever), the word is

pronounced with a low-front vowel. Look it up in the Bible. I feel sure this is the way it is

pronounced there as well.

Dennis R. Preston wrote:

If us Louisvillians are southerners, then count at least one southern /ah/

(rather than low-front) pronouncer of 'waft.' ''Waft' wif a wow-fwont vowew

sounds wike siwwy wabbit tawk fow 'raft' to me.

Dennis in East Lansing (where the winds blow too hard and cold for this to

ever be a question)

I'm gathering evidence among cultivated speakers for the pronunciation of

several literary words, and am finding that waft is overwhelmingly pronounced

WAHFT, but in the South (speakers raised and still living there) it seems to

be the vowel of RAFT. Can anyone from the South speak to this?

Dale Coye

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Princeton, NJ

Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


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