Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five: How do you spell it?--5 “black” terms with indeterminate spellings

Students and purveyors of negro language often come across terms that they hear on a regular basis, but rarely write or see in print. I’ve seen such words spelled several different ways, and I always have trouble translating them into writing. I present the pronunciation of 5 such terms below:

1.) sə-'dĭt-ē

2.) 'bü -zhē

3.) 'ĭg-nĭnt

4.) nĭm

5.) ô 'sʊk-ē 'sʊk-ē

I invite everyone to offer their best guesses about how any of these five is spelled…and feel free to offer other relevant words/pronunciations. For your convenience, I’ve included a handy pronunciation key. Cut and paste away!:

\ ă \ as a in pat
\ ā \ as a in ace
\ ä \ as a in father
\ au \ as ou in out
\ b \ as in baby
\ ch \ as ch in chin
\ d \ as d in did
\ ĕ \ as e in bet
\ ē \ as ea in easy
\ f \ as f in fifty
\ g \ as g in go
\ h \ as h in hat
\ ĭ \ as i in hit
\ ī \ as i in ice
\ j \ as j in job
\ k \ as k in kin
\ l \ as l in lily
\ m \ as m in mom
\ n \ as n in own
\ ng \ as ng in sing
\ ō \ as o in no
\ ô \ as aw in law
\ oi \ as oy in boy
\ p \ as p in pop
\ r \ as r in red
\ s \ as s in yes
\ sh \ as sh in shy
\ t \ as t in tie
\ th \ as th in thin
\ th \ as th in the
\ ə\ as u in cut
\ ü \ as oo in loot
\ ʊ \ as oo in foot
\ ûr \ as ur in fur
\ v \ as v in vivid
\ w \ as w in away
\ y \ as y in yet
\ z \ as z in zone
\ zh \ as si in vision


Undercover Black Man said...

Very cool, y'all. I have had occasion to spell some of these terms before. And I do so thusly:

1) sadity

2) bourgie

3) ign'ant

You posted this just as I was wondering about a term heard in my household growing up (from a dad born nearly 100 years ago in rural Virginia); it's pronounced hinepox.

As in: "Get your hinepox over here, boy!"

Never saw anything close to this word in print. Then a few years ago, Denzel's character in "Remember the Titans" used the phrase "hind parts." Wah-laa! That's it.

Except if you say it like "hind parts," it sounds totally wrong. It's hinepox!

gordon gartrelle said...

Interesting choices!

That "hinepox" story is hilarious. My dad, who is from the deep South, used to make fun of people's "wopped" heads. Years later, I realized that he was saying "warped."

chaunceydevega said...

One more for poor black pronunciation. My dad used to call testes, i.e. "balls", "nuts", or "man grapes", test-ss. I would say dad it/they are pronounced "tes-tees". He just couldn't do it, so "test-ss" became our official pronunciation.

Zora said...

Growing up in the Pentacostal church, I spent years singing spirituals that didn't make any sense.

Example: "I don't know Wayukongado, I come to praise his name." My brother and I both assumed that Wayukongado was another name for God, like Adonai or Yahweh.

We have recently realized that the lyrics are actually, "I don't know what you come to do, I come to praise his name."