Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:59:18 EST


Subject: Re: Sulking Over Silky Milk & Other Words of That Ilk

For me, it's definitely phonological in most environments: I always have an L

in -ilk and -ulk (with schwa), never in -a(u)lk (balk, caulk, talk) [although

if the vowel is front then indeed I do: calc vs. caulk, talc vs. talk], and

as Peter says it's basically the same distinction as in -Vlm: L in film, not

in calm. But what makes the 'folk' case especially interesting is that with

that vowel it appears to be not (purely) a phonological matter. I mentioned

before that I have no L in 'folk' or any of its derivatives, while I do have

one in "Volkswagen" or (in case you think it's vol-kswagen) in "Volks". I

also have one in "Polk", as in the president or the street in San Francisco.

I'm now trying to figure out how I'd pronounce the name of someone I was

reading about in the paper where the name is spelled Folk (or Pholque, or

whatever). (FWIW, yolk is also L-less for me, so 'yolk' and 'yoke' are

homophones. But I suspect that 'tolk' [as a neologism for a follower of

Tolkien] and 'toke' wouldn't be.)