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Thread: Language quirks: Wear are you going in your underwear?

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    Language quirks: Wear are you going in your underwear?

    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Yes, I realize that I mentioned "underwear" eight times in this post, including this sentence. I really should grow up, I suppose.
    Because "underwear" kept recurring, it reminded me of the cod-Latin phrase semper ubi sub ubi which "translates" to become "alway where under where".
    I'm amused by the explanation of the joke that I recently found on Quora, which reveals the punning meaning "always wear underwear", but goes on to ruin it by saying
    One might say this to a Scotsman who is anxious about the proper accoutrements to his kilt. ;-)
    I guess you might say it, but the Scotsman would find the pun impenetrable. In Scottish English "wh" and "w" have different sounds (/hw/ and /w/).

    ETA: Hmmm. I thought I was on the "amuses" thread. Oh well.

    Grant Hutchison


    Mod note: posts moved from Trivial (or not so trivial) stuff that makes you happy to their own thread since I found the subject interesting and thought it might distract from the "happy" conversation.
    Last edited by PetersCreek; Yesterday at 08:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    In Scottish English "wh" and "w" have different sounds (/hw/ and /w/).
    As they do in properly pronounced US English. Although I do revert to my native Southern vernacular from time to time, I'm very much in the where camp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    As they do in properly pronounced US English. Although I do revert to my native Southern vernacular from time to time, I'm very much in the where camp.
    Interesting. The Phonological Atlas of North America suggests the "wine-whine merger" was pretty well established across the USA by 1997, with the Lower South states and Texas as significant hold-outs, maintaining the contrast.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Interesting. The Phonological Atlas of North America suggests the "wine-whine merger" was pretty well established across the USA by 1997, with the Lower South states and Texas as significant hold-outs, maintaining the contrast.
    That is interesting and I'm glad you posted it. While composing my last post, it came to mind that I've heard a lot of variation throughout the South. I'm originally from Jackson, Mississippi, marked prominently in the linked map as "No distinction." I've also lived in several southern locales and the pronunciation can be so distinct in some places—like parts of North Carolina—that it can sound exaggerated. I've heard a lot of people say it as "were" while others say "whir." In many areas, the degree of distinction can vary with placement within a sentence and with certain word combinations. For instance: /hw/ere y'all goin' /w/en ya get there?
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    As they do in properly pronounced US English. Although I do revert to my native Southern vernacular from time to time, I'm very much in the where camp.
    Iíve never made the distinction and people around me (northeast) did not, so I have never considered it incorrect.
    As above, so below

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    (Family Guy is about 5% good, 95% rubbish, but this thread has me thinking "cool whip".)
    Measure once, cut twice. Practice makes perfect.

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    Under where?

    And as I've said many times, I hate homophones. Eye type them awl the dam thyme.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Youtube-famous expert in Old Norse language & sagas & myths, Jackson Crawford (PhD), has used the "wh"/"w" thing several times as an example when making points about phonetics (geographic distribution, evolution over time, the concepts of phoneme & allophone). It's apparently stood out to him for most of his life, even before he became a linguist, because it's always made him stand out from most other people in his home area (rural Colorado & Wyoming). He had spent most of his childhood with his grandparents and picked up the unvoiced "wh" from them, whereas everybody else in his generation had gone with the more recent change from "wh" to "w". In one of his most recent videos, although he didn't talk about those sounds in particular, he put some text on the screen about them and adding that he's already heard every "Cool Whip" joke you could imagine.

    Gothic had a letter for the unvoiced "wh": Ƕ, ƕ.

    What most people who talk/write about the difference between "wh" and "w" either don't notice, or don't make it clear that they have noticed, is that there are at least two distinct versions even among those who do an unvoiced "wh". When Stewie said "Cool Whip", he put the unvoiced fricative in the velar position, the same tongue position as "k", "g", and "ng" (IPA symbol /x/). Jackson Crawford's unvoiced fricative for "wh" is not velar but bilabial, like a normal voiced "w" and also "b" and "p" (IPA symbol /ɸ/). The original position was velar, with the bilabial option coming along later under the influence of the adjacent "w", so even Jackson Crawford's old-time holdover pronunciation was already a derivative.

    Any Englisher whose dialect of English still uses the /ɸʷ/ is making a sound that's pretty unusual globally; it has a tendency to end up disappearing (as it has for most of English) or turning into something else soon after it arises. Its IPA symbol is derived from a Greek letter, but even Greek doesn't have it anymore; they just figure that was an intermediate stage the Greek letter went through during its pʰ→f transition, making it really pʰ→ɸ→f. The only other setting I've heard it in is Sami, in which it only arises as an allophone of H next to an O or U. Here's a song in Sami (lyrics here) in which /ɸ/ (with no "w" attached) shows up in the words "guhkki", "dohkko", "suhtu", and "vuhtti", but not "halida" or "rahkkis". If you're not used to thinking of that as a linguistic sound, it sounds like somebody blowing a candle out. (Sami, BTW, is very closely related to Finnish, which is the language Tolkien wanted Elvish to sound like.)
    Last edited by Delvo; Today at 05:59 AM.

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    Like many Scots, I'm in the /ɸ/ group--in fact, was taught in primary school that the sound made by "wh" was the sound of someone blowing out a candle. A bit north of my home town, in a regional accent confusingly called Doric, the /ɸ/ has evolved into /f/--which, along with a bit of a vowel shift, means that "What?" sounds like "Fit?" and "Where?" sounds like "Far?". Foreign visitors wander around with a look of anxious attention on their faces.
    But we also hear /hw/, and in the Highlands /xw/ is common, with that voiceless velar fricative that ends the word "loch". (People in these parts use /xw/ for emphasis or comic effect.) In old Scots orthography, the /xw/ sound was spelled "quh", and you can still see that in some placenames. Not far from here is a place called Cultoquhey, for instance, pronounced cull-TOE-whey.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; Today at 07:11 PM.

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