Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 16:03:36 -0500

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

Subject: Re: Political Blunder

The definition of the racist idiom 'nigger rich' has already been

explained, but I am a little surprised that so many list participants don't

understand that 'near rich' could have been so misheard. I assure you that

lenition is alive ansd well. In ordinary spoken English, when a C hangs out

between two Vs, it is in danger of losing its C-status. Just look what

happnes to 'butter' as it goes from the British, aspirated 't' form to an

almost completely lenited form in rapid spoken varieties of AmerEng,

leaving, in my speech, for example, something that sounds like 'buhr.'

Assume lenition on the 'g' of the racist term, and the mishearing is clear.

Dennis (the lenitor, or is it leniter?) Preston


Watching the local news last week here in Central Kentucky I heard

Senator Wendell Ford jump all over a caller. Senator Ford was hosting a

talk radio show and was answering callers had regarding politics and

where Senator Ford stood. A caller was complaining about the a tax

proposal that the Senator was endorsing. The caller said, "I ain't near

rich as you." The Senator angrily replied, "I ain't nigger rich

either." This of course was the political blunder of the week here in

Kentucky. Senator Ford later apologized to 04 that he may have

offended, which in this state isn't many. He said he was only

reprimanding the caller for what he thought was said. Being from

Detroit and then moving to Kentucky I have heard numerous racial slurs

but this one is one I never heard. Is there such a slur? What does it

mean? The only guess I have is one that once owned numerous slaves was

"nigger rich." I imagine it wouldn't be hard to trace Senator Ford's roots.