Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 09:10:39 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: Survey of e-usage

Rudy's note on 'drouth' reminds me of the most amazing intra-dialectal

misunderstanding I ever suffered.

I was old enough to be waiting on customers in my parents' paint and

wallpaper store (in New Albany, IN, a northern suburb of Louisville, KY,

but you must never identify it that way to the natives; they think the guys

on the south side of the river are hillbillies), and a woman walked up to

me and asked for a can of 'rawthorn black.'

Now, there are, in fact, lots of 'blacks' in a paint store -- lamp black,

drop balck, etc..., but no rawthorn.

Nervously, I finally got around to asking the woman what she wanted this

stuff for.

'So I can paint my WROTH ARN,' she replied, obviously convinced that I was

the addled son, and she began to look around for competent assistance.

Just like FOURTH FLOOR, however, her slow and stressed pronunciation

(especially the last part) allowed me to retrieve 'iron,' (after all, my

own pronunciation was close to 'arn') which allowed a quick

back-collocation and the retrieval of 'wrought.'

Must have been one of those moments that points the way downhill to linguistics.

(On a sadder note, I haven't recently thought about linguists 'abiding'

various regional or social forms. Oh well.)


Rudy wrote:

There are a few

things like DROUTH that I will never surrender on, the Union Army be damned --

we know much more about them in Texas than anyplace else can claim to.

I can understand DROUTH as dry in the south, but I still can't abide heith

for he ith tall.


Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


Office: (517)432-1235

Fax: (517)432-2736