Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 14:52:54 EDT


Subject: Re: WAFT and the Principle of Linguistic Entropy

Ellen Johnson writes,

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

Waft rhymes with raft for me. Yes, I'm Southern, and I hope I'm mistaken about

the assumption that some here seem to have made that this is the incorrect

pronunciation bc it's Southern and it's an educated word and Southerners are

uneducated. Or something like that. Although someone did note that it might

be more common among Scots-Irish descendants and it doesn't seem like such a

terribly unusual word to me. Anyway, the "broad-a" pronunciation of other

words (path, dance, aunt, etc) has some local prestige but can hardly be

considered standard AmEng. I guess I am just questioning the source of the

original determination of "wahft" as correct.


Did I miss someone claiming that the "raft" pronunciation is 'incorrect'?

Incorrect because its practitioners are Southerners and (hence?) 'uneducated'?

Golly. What I remember is several correspondents (including me) claiming they

pronounce 'waft' one way and others claiming they pronounce it another way.

Someone indicated they found a dictionary which listed the 'wahft' version

first, followed by the rhyme-with-"raft" version. Someone else (actually a

few correspondents) discussed diachrony, with the suggestion that the 'wahft'

version is older, and we wondered why wa- words with short /a/ (or a

phonologically describably subset of such words) failed to merge with /wae-/

while /a/-- /ae/ elsewhere. Are we claiming we "wahft"ies are more virtuous

for failing to front (while we're equally sinful as you elsewhere, since we

all pronounce "daft", "draft", etc. to rhyme with "raft")? I don't recall the

value judgments you seem to be imputing to us wahfties, and I'd be surprised

to find them professed (even covertly) on ADS. Incidentally, this wahfty

pronounces "aunt", "dance", and "path" with the digraph; the first is a

homonym of "ant". (I realize other Yankee speakers differ from me in this.)

It's a fact about wa- (remember that "quaff" was brought up as another case--

do you non-wahfties use a front vowel for that one too?) before coronals and

-f-, not a general fact about rare words or high-falutin words or anything of

the sort. Other dialects are described with a different generalization.

What does it have to do with education levels or "correctness"?

End of sermon.