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I was listening to "Any Friend of Diane's" by Weezer and was wondering about the varied pronunciations of of.

Any friend of Diane's is a friend of mine.

As rendered in the song (it's the first line, linked above), both of's sound something like /ə/ or more open, but it's inconsistent, sometimes the consonant is there. I assume the dropped consonant and increased vowel openness is because it's sung and slurring the vowel into the next word lets you save some time. However, if I speak that phrase, I'm often slurring the second of into just a vowel (friend /ə/ mine) but keeping the first as closer to /əv/.

Is this a regional/dialect thing? An implicit ofo' contraction for more common "of X" pairings?

  • I would reduce both instances to /ə/, but I suppose it would make sense if of gets reduced more in particularly common collocations, such as with possessive pronouns. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 29 '18 at 20:09
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Dropping the 'f' from 'of' is widespread in speech as is the dropping of other consonants. Rudyard Kipling used it to good effect in the poem Tommy Atkins the first verse of which is

I WENT into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer, The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here." The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

The dropping of consonants isn't limited to British working class speech either, there is a part of the upper class known as the huntin' shootin' fishin' set because of their enthusiastic participation in field sports and a supposed tendency to drop final consonants in speech. Consonants, particularly final consonants, are dropped everywhere English is spoken so it's no surprise to find them dropped when a song is sung.

  • Might be worth noting that 'sez' is eye-dialect, i.e. indicates the standard pronunciation of the word says while implying an accent / dialect other than R.P. Standard English. Similarly o' would probably be spelled of if the character was an RP speaker, even if they also pronounced it with no consonant sound. – bdsl Jan 29 '18 at 21:27
  • @bdsi The 'sez' is not really relevant to my point, I only included the first verse of the poem to show that dropping the 'f ' from 'of'' is common. I would agree that 'of' would normally be written in full but it would be omitted if an author was indicating that an RP speaker had a languid delivery. Compare with huntin', shootin' fishin'. In a similar way John leCarre has one character (I can't remember in which book) say 'ears' for 'yes' to indicate that he is somewhat affected RP speaker. – BoldBen Jan 31 '18 at 0:19

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