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See Ben Zimmer's jawn etymology interview, and also "Vaina == Jawn?", 8/12/2016.


  1. JPL said,

    October 5, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

    How do you get from "In Washington DC [and moving south] this 'joint' sounds more like 'jaunt'; in Memphis, users report the spelling of this particular 'joint' as 'junt' to match its pronunciation." to "In Philly that final -t was dropped, giving the city 'jawn'."? What's the mechanism? (It's not Labov saying that.)

  2. rpsms said,

    October 6, 2017 @ 10:03 am

    "Jawn" has been co-opted by commercialism in the Philly area recently (so far as I think I have noticed), and I always get a feeling that they use it ungrammatically.

    I the tweet, "This jawn's for you" seems correct, but the rest, not so much?

    Am I crazy?

  3. Ellen K. said,

    October 6, 2017 @ 3:03 pm

    I'm puzzled by the spelling/pronunciation. The article shows the pronunciation as rhyming with Don, not Dawn. And best I can tell Philadelphia isn't an area with the Don/Dawn merger. Is the article's pronunciation accurate? If so, why the mismatch between spelling and pronunciation?

  4. Andrew Usher said,

    October 6, 2017 @ 10:02 pm

    Surely it does rhyme with 'dawn' (the spelling couldn't be explained otherwise), and M-W just has it wrong. Weakening the second element of the diphthong 'oi' (which must have been what gave rise to this pron.) would give, much more likely, 'aw' rather than the 'ah' you can get from the other two diphthongs.

  5. T.J. said,

    October 7, 2017 @ 7:28 am

    None of the different forms involve huge changes. Philly and DC reduce a diphthong to a monophthong, Memphis changes the diphthong. All are reasonable changes for a lexical item that is, until recently, not generally written. Keep in mind that Philly "aw" has an off-glide. I'm not sure to what extent DC AAE is or isn't low-back merged, but the presence of a following nasal seems like it could contribute to change here, with what are already the most confusable vowels.

    [d͡ʒɔ̃ɪ̃(n)ʔ] —> [d͡ʒɔ̃:(n)]

    [d͡ʒɔ̃ɪ̃(n)ʔ] —> [d͡ʒɑ̃ː(n)ʔ]

    [d͡ʒɔ̃ɪ̃(n)ʔ] —> [d͡ʒẽɪ̃(n)ʔ]

  6. JPL said,

    October 8, 2017 @ 4:11 am


    Thanks! That's a whole lot better than what's on the M-W website. And thanks for indicating the difference in vowel length. (I've never heard any of these forms.)

  7. Andrew Usher said,

    October 8, 2017 @ 8:36 am


    How is that Memphis pronunciation plausibly spelled 'junt'? If my IPA doesn't fail me, it's more like 'jaint'. I would guess 'junt' to be representing a stressed schwa as in 'gonna'.

    And are you sure the length is phonemic, as the previous poster assumed? Yes, those particular accents might indeed have the kind of phonemic vowel length totally absent from GA (and it is total – _none_ of my stressed vowels can be distinguished consistently by length, in any word), but I'd not take it as axiomatic that the compensatory lengthening would be kept once it becomes a distinct word, as 'jawn' is.

    And it is true that a following nasal (and accompanying nasalisation) can be confused with an off-glide, but I don't think there are any examples of that occurring in standard English (I rather think of Polish here).

    No one has presented any reason to believe that 'jawn' doesn't rhyme with 'lawn' (modulo, perhaps, a final 't' with its own realisational possiblities) wherever it is used, so I will assume I'm right there. (I've never heard it, either …)

  8. Coby Lubliner said,

    October 8, 2017 @ 10:26 am

    There's some weird jawn in the M-W article. "[A]s Philadelphian as Ben Franklin"? He was a Bostonian who moved to Philly. "[T]he word joint changed as it moved south"? American English didn't "move" from north to south.

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