2

In the negro spiritual Jonah and the Whale, I found the word waddnat:

...
Now the Lord made a whale, long and wide
Lord, Lord waddnat a fish
And he swallowed up Jonah, hair and hide
Lord, Lord waddnat a fish
Mmm, Lord, mmm, Lord
...

From AZLyrics

What is the meaning of waddnat? Is it like a combination of multiple words?

I couldn't find any reference on the internet.

  • 10
    Wasn't that, perhaps? – Lawrence Sep 29 '17 at 7:28
  • @Lawrence almost certainly, given the context. – Herr Pink Sep 29 '17 at 9:58
  • I'm not a native speaker, but I thought of that as well. But how is one supposed to guess that? An obvious way is the pronunciation... How is this technique called? – Ionică Bizău Sep 29 '17 at 10:10
  • I think it's a form of phonetic spelling. – Lawrence Sep 29 '17 at 10:15
  • 1
    Agree! Actually, doing another quick search I found other versions with Wasn't that instead of waddnat. Thanks! – Ionică Bizău Sep 30 '17 at 17:50
2

Wasn't that.

Some English dialects substitute d for s, often when immediately preceding an n or th. So idnit for isn't it, whodat for who's that.

  • 1
    I thought that the [d] came from voicing [t]... – as4s4hetic Oct 11 '17 at 21:45
  • 1
    @as4s4hetic: In "who's that", the [d] is at least partly from the [ð] of "that". I don't see an example of [d] from [t] in any of the phrases mentioned on this page. Another example of /zn/ to /dn/ is "bidness" for "business" – sumelic Oct 11 '17 at 22:29
  • "wadn't" and "idn't" are apparently used in some British accents also: forum.wordreference.com/threads/idnt-wadnt-isnt-wasnt.2432198 – sumelic Oct 11 '17 at 22:32
  • @sumelic oh, that's interesting! – as4s4hetic Oct 11 '17 at 23:21

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