Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 11:21:46 -0500

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

Subject: Re: folk/folklore

Dear ADS Folks ([fowks]:

Let's do phonology (rather than suspicions of spelling pronunciations on this).

In the item 'folk,' the entire coda is the cluster 'lk.' Clusters in codas

are unseemly and can be reduced in lots of ways. Since the 'l' is already a

candidate for vocalizing, it's not a big trick for it to 'disappear' into

the preceding vowel.

In 'folklore,' however, it is possible to reanalyze the final cluster of

'folk,' assigning the final 'k' to the onset of 'lore' (since the onset

cluster 'kl' is licensed in English). The result of the reanalysis is 'fol

- klore,' in which the new noncluster coda of the first element (simply

'l') has a better chance of surviving, although, as is well known, there

are many dialects (mine included) in which even a single 'l' in a coda will

be almost completely vocalized.

In my own use, it is clear that I have a initial elements 'fo' (with no

'l') and a second ''klore,' with the 'k' reassigned to onset in the second

element. Alas, as you can see, since I am a Louisvillian, this reassignment

does nothing to save my 'l' from complete vocalization.

I guess this is why my wife (a funny-taking Milwaukeean) always asks me why

I am barking when I say 'wolf' (WOOWF WOOWF).

Dennis Preston


An astute sophomore in my linguistics class yesterday asked why "folk" has

no /l/ but why the same element in "folklore" does. I had never noticed

this difference in my own pronunciation before, but I maintain it. Anybody

got a good explanation? My only guess is that "folklore" with an /l/ in

"folk" is a reading-influenced pronunciation.

Are you sure you and your student aren't hearing the /l/ in "lore" rather

than in "folk"? I'm sitting here saying "folk," "folklore," "folkdance"

over and over (obviously not the best way to test these things) and can't

hear any /l/ in any of the folks.

Why would "folklore" be more reading-influenced that other "folks"? If

the first l in "folklore" really is being pronounced, could it be in

anticipation of the second l?

--Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

I say the /l/ in "folkdance" too. "Folks" (as oppposed to "folk") is a

word I use a lot as part of my basic vocabulary for kinship. It means

'parents' to me (i. e., "Your folks" = "your parents").