Saturday, 20 February 2016

weakform-based pun

Here's a pun which 'relies' on a weakform pronunciation.

credit: John C. Wells
My thanks go to John Wells for spotting this.


  1. A nice joke, but of course it does not rely only on a weakform pronunciation – it relies on a linking /r/ too.
    Mind you, would we actually use the linking /r/ in this case of “How dare he?”? I am not sure that I would. I think I would say: /hau deə hɪ/
    /hau deərɪ/ sounds inauthentic to me.
    Still a joke, but not quite as good.

  2. Sounds natural to me, a linguistically perfect pun, whether you have a tapped or approximate /r/ and a tense or a lax "short i".

    /h/ in place of /r/ doesn't sound wrong to me, but certainly not more natural or native.

  3. Mr Cusack has quite a point. There is the stylistic question that speakers who wd use this form of expression tend to sound conspicuously upper or upper middle class. Consequently, one may suggest that it wd be a more harmonious style for such speakers, who as a class suffer from a horror of failure to make 'correct' use of aitches, to say /haʊ `dɛ(ə) hiː/. On the other hand upper-class speakers are much less likely to care that they sound old-fashioned than the rest of us are, so that Mr Cusack seems to me to be likely to be fully justified when he remarks that /haʊ dɛər ɪ/ strikes him personally as not authentic. As a member of the lower (middle) class, I may say that the version /`haʊ dɛːr i/ strikes me as not authenticly representing my class usage on account of its word choice being pompous (which of course can well be considered part of the joke). I shd be more inclined to express my reaction in such a circumstance by a locution such as ‘What a bluddy nerve!’