Kate Gladstone writes to draw my attention to an "interesting oddity about some people's (wrong) notions of how the English language sounded in a quite recent period of history". Commenting at Barking Carnival a couple of days ago, "Nero" decried the "sad state of subject-verb agreement" and the decay of penmanship, and also advanced this interesting hypothesis about the past fifty years of phonetic history:
I read an interview in Rolling Stone with the cast of AMC’s Mad Men and one of the actors said they have to be very careful with all of their pronunciation. “There was no ‘gonna’ or ‘shoulda’ back then [in the 1960's]”
I can assure Nero that both "gonna" and "shoulda" were common in 1960s American English. Supplying documentation for this obvious fact is like footnoting the observation that in those bygone days, people already wore shoes; but here's what the OED has to say:
colloq. (esp. U.S.) or vulgar pronunciation of going to.
[Cf. the earlier Sc. ganna, gaunna: see Eng. Dial. Dict. s.v. Go, quots. 1806, etc.]
1913 C. E. MULFORD Coming of Cassidy ix. 149 Yo're gonna get a good lickin'. 1929 E. W. SPRINGS Above Bright Blue Sky 136, 5684 has a busted cylinder. Gonna put a new motor in it. 1952 A. BARON With Hope, Farewell 56 Put 'em all in clover, that's what I'm gonna do. 1967 M. SHULMAN Kill 3 II. iv. 81 I'm gonna keep on yelling tell you let me out.
I'm more interested in the question of what members of the cast of Mad Men might have said in Rolling Stone or elsewhere about this question. And if some of them actually believe that "gonna" and "shoulda" would be anachronistic in the 1960s, what does this do to their pronunciation as actors on the show?
As for that alleged Rolling Stone interview, I didn't turn anything relevant up after a few minutes with Google site search and the magazine's own search box, though I did find "The Ultimate 'Mad Men' Playlist" 8/2/2010, which includes Sam Cooke's 1964 hit A Change is Gonna Come.
Can anyone do better? Or was Nero just hallucinating, or joking around, or otherwise blowing smoke?
[Update — yesterday, Chris at TLL took a corpus-based approach to footnoting the fact that people in the 1960s wore shoes and said "gonna": "woulda coulda shoulda with cigarettes and booze". And Chris points to a 9/8/2010 post by David Crystal, who anticipates me in citing the OED, and adds that
In the 1602 Quarto edition of Merry Wives of Windsor we find Nym saying 'I should ha borne the humor Letter to her', and there are several similar examples in the literature of the period.
So we've brought a sledgehammer and several sticks of TNT to bear on the buzzing housefly of Nero's comment — but I still want to know, did anyone connected with the series Mad Men actually ever say anything remotely similar to what Nero attributed to them? ]