H.L. Mencken > The American Language > Subject Index > Page 318
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).  The American Language.  1921.

Page 318
lopped off in bankrup, quan’ity, crep, slep, wep, kep, gris’-mill and les (=let’s=let us), and is replaced by d in kindergarden and pardner. L disappears, as in a’ready and gent’man. The s-sound becomes tsh, as in pincers. The same tsh replaces ct, as in pitcher for picture, and t, as in amachoor. G disappears from the ends of words, 109 and sometimes, too, in the middle, as in stren’th and reco’nize. R, though it is better preserved in American than in English, is also under pressure, as appears by bust, Febuary, stuck on (for struck on), cuss (for curse), yestiddy, sa’s’parella, pa’tridge, ca’tridge, they is (for there is) and Sadd’y (for Saturday). An excrescent t survives in a number of words, e. g., onc’t, twic’t, clos’t, wisht (for wish) and chanc’t; it is an heirloom from the English of two centuries ago. So is the final h in heighth. An excrescent b, as in chimbley and fambly, seems to be native. Whole syllables are dropped out of words, paralleling the English butchery of extraordinary; for example, in bound’ry, pro’bition, tarnal (=eternal), complected, hist’ry, lib’ry and prob’ly. Ordinary, like extraordinary, is commonly enunciated clearly, but it has bred a degenerated form, onry or onery, differentiated in meaning. 110 Consonants are misplaced by metathesis, as in prespiration, hunderd, brethern, childern, libery, interduce, apern, calvary, govrenment, modren and wosterd (for worsted). Ow is changed to er, as in piller, swaller, yeller, beller and holler, or to a, as in fella, or to i, as in minni (=minnow); ice is changed to ers in janders. Words are given new syllables, as in ellum, fillum, lozenger, athaletic, mischievious, mayorality and municipial, or new consonants, as in overhalls and idear.
  In the complete sentence, assimilation makes this disorganization much more obvious. Mearns, in a brief article, 111 gives many
Note 109.  But not all words in -g. Lardner calls my attention to the fact that anything and everything are almost always excepted. He says: “I used, occasionally, to sit on the players’ bench at baseball games, and it was there that I noted the exceptions made in favor of these two words. A player, returning to the bench after batting, would be asked, ‘Has he got anything in there?’# (‘He—in there’# always means the pitcher). The answer would be ‘He’s got everything.’# On the other hand, the player might return and (usually after striking out) say, ‘He hasn’t got nothin’.’# And the manager: ‘Looks like he must have somethin’.’#” [back]
Note 110.  This word, when written, often appears as ornery, but it is almost always pronounced on’ry, with the first syllable rhyming with don. [back]
Note 111.  Our Own, Our Native Speech, McClure’s Magazine, Oct., 1916. [back]


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.