Home > Language, Music, Today's News > Madoff, Kitt, and g-dropping

Madoff, Kitt, and g-dropping

January 11, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wrote about g-dropping here and here and here during my two-month obsession with Sarah Palin. (It seems like a dream now. Does she actually exist? Did she really run for vice president? Wake me up.)

I return to this topic via an unexpected route, with stops at Bernie Madoff and Eartha Kitt. How do these all connect? Let me explain.

Let’s start with Bernie Madoff. In Thursday’s NYT, there was an article reporting that “prosecutors said that Mr. Madoff and his wife, Ruth, had sent packages of valuables to his sons and brother, violating the terms of his bail agreement. Mr. Madoff has promised the Securities and Exchange Commission not to dispose of any of his assets, which may eventually be sold and used to repay investors who lost money in the scheme.” The article took a light-hearted approach in its opening: “Sixteen watches, including diamond-encrusted timepieces from Tiffany and Cartier. Four diamond brooches. Two sets of cuff links. An emerald ring. These are a few of Bernard L. Madoff’s favorite things.” And an accompanying photo had the caption, “Bernard L. Madoff left court on Monday. His lawyers said that he and his wife had sent ‘a few sentimental’ pieces of jewelry.”

Let’s switch to Eartha Kitt. She died on Christmas Day, just weeks before her 82nd birthday. The NYT obit gives some idea of her immense talent and varied career. Perhaps the song most closely associated to her was Santa Baby.

The (tenuous) connection between Bernie Madoff and Eartha Kitt is the post appearing last Thursday at Overlawyered in response to the NYT article on Madoff. The post’s title is A Few Sentimental Personal Items. Referring to the “estimated $1 million in jewelry and gem-encrusted watches” that Madoff tried to send, Walter Olson writes that “Eartha Kitt should have lived just a few more weeks to see it” and then includes the youtube video of Eartha Kitt that you can find at the top of this post, in which she sings another of her old hits, Just an Old Fashioned Girl.

That’s how Madoff and Kitt are connected. The g-dropping comes in, unexpectedly, in Kitt’s rendition of Just an Old Fashioned Girl. The song is tongue-in-cheek, though this isn’t entirely evident at first, and Kitt is careful and deliberate in her enunciation. Thus it took me completely by surprise when I heard her sing of “piles of money mountin’ ” at the 52 second mark and rhymed it with “while I’m counting” just past the 1 minute mark. Go listen.

Well, that’s my post. It’s not about Bernie Madoff or Eartha Kitt (though you may enjoy taking a moment to listen to Eartha). Rather, my point is that we drop g’s, or don’t, by choice, making that choice repeatedly rather than having a uniform way of speaking. Eartha Kitt’s rendition of the song is an excellent example of this. Clearly she dropped the ‘g’ of ‘mounting’ intentionally and kept the ‘g’ of ‘counting’ intentionally. I wonder why.

Categories: Language, Music, Today's News
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: