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
'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.)
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
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu