Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 14:37:32 -0500

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

Subject: Re: folk/folklore

What fun to hear that some students got a kick out of (rather than from)

phonology for a change.

But, to the point. No, us people (whoever we are, sounds like maybe we are

the evil scientists) think that folk learn a lot of words as words

(regardless of 'laws'). I am, for example, an 'aw' (as in 'caught')

pronouncer of most 'o' words before 'g' ('hog,' 'log,' 'dog,' 'frog,'

etc...), but a little introspection will show me that I have a bunch of

exceptions ('cog,' 'togs,' 'bog'). In every case, the non-'aw'

pronunciations are later-learned.

I meant to suggest that word-level analyses may often mask a deeper rule;

when the words are th only way to go, have at them.

Dennis Preston


Unsure now of what I say in these words, I read all seventeen pages of this

exchange to my linguistics class this morning. Everyone got a big kick out

of Dennis' dissertation on phonology.

My astute student (the one who asked the question) wanted me to reply to

Dennis' systematic phonology. She says that systematic phonology does not

explain why she pronounces the words differently. She asks, "Don't these

people ever think that you learn words from other people? You learn what

you hear. I heard "folks" [foks] and learned it that way. I heard

somebody else say [folkd[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ns] and [folklor]. That's why I say these words


I tend to agree, fan of things like sound laws though I am. I learned

[foks] from other [foks]; I learned [folkd[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ns] and [folklore] from people

who did not do these things but who had some kind of tourist or academic or

preservationist interest in these things. People who are genuine

(unconscious) folkdancers do not say things like "Why don't y'all come over

and folkdance with us tonight? We'll spend some time sharing some

folklore. We might even kill a pig and salt it up for the winter in the

ways of the folk."

The point, I guess, is that sound laws may not be consistent when borrowing

from other dialects (or languages) occurs.

With an extended audience,

Wayne Glowka

Professor of English

Director of Research and Graduate Student Services

Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA 31061