H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
examples of the extent to which it is carried. He hears wah zee say? for what does he say?, ware zee? for where is he?, ast er in for ask her in, ittm owd for hit them out, sry for that is right, and cmeer for come here. He believes that the voiceless t is gradually succumbing to the voiced d, and cites ass bedder (for thats better), wen juh ged din? (for when did you get in?), and siddup (for sit up). One hears countless other such decayed forms on the street every day. Lets is les. The neutral vowel replaces the oo of good in gby. What did you say? reduces itself to wuz ay? Maybe is mebby, perhaps is praps, so long is slong, excuse me is skus me; the common salutation, how are you? is so dismembered that it finally emerges as a word almost indistinguishable from high. Here there is room for inquiry, and that inquiry deserves the best effort of American phonologists, for the language is undergoing rapid changes under their very eyes, or, perhaps more accurately, under their very ears, and a study of those changes should yield a great deal of interesting matter. How did the word stint, on American lips, first convert itself into stent and then into stunt? By what process was baulk changed into buck?
A by-way that is yet to be so much as entered is that of naturalized loan-words in the common speech. A very characteristic word of that sort is sashay. Its relationship to the French chassé seems to be plain, and yet it has acquired meanings in American that differ very widely from the meaning of chassé. How widely it is dispersed may be seen by the fact that it is reported in popular use, as a verb signifying to prance or to walk consciously, in Southeastern Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern Arkansas, Michigan, Eastern Alabama and Western Indiana, and, with slightly different meaning, on Cape Cod. The travels of café in America would repay investigation; particularly its variations in pronunciation. I believe that it is fast becoming kaif. Plaza, boulevard, vaudeville, menu and rathskeller have entered into the common speech of the land, and are pronounced as American words. Such words, when they come in verbally, by actual contact with immigrants, commonly retain some measure of their correct native pronunciation. Spiel, kosher, ganof and matzoth are examples; their vowels remain un-American. But