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USAGE: "vixen" [was Re: COMMENT PLEASE]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Monday, September 23, 2002, 2:08
Quoting John Cowan <jcowan@...>:

> Now you want weird, consider "vixen". The /v/ (contrasted with the > /f/ of "fox") probably comes from a dialect that voiced initial > fricatives ("'What were you doing?' 'Zailin' the bloody boat.'" > --Dorothy L. Sayers). But on investigation it turns out that *every* > dialect has /v/ in "vixen"! How the devil did it become so uniform?
Also something I don't understand: why would it be "vixen" (with a high vowel) rather than "vexen" (with a mid vowel, taking umlaut and subsequent unrounding into account)? Did something like a Proto- Germanic *fuks-, analogous with NHG <Fuchs>, remain in the feminine but not in the masculine? ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637