Call of Doody

Recently I was talking to a student about the pronunciation of the word duty. And as is so often the case with English, it became one of those well-it-depends moments.

I explained that in British English, the D has a soft /ʤ/ sound, like that of the letter J, and the T is fairly prominently pronounced. In American English on the other hand, the D has its common /d/ sound, as in door and dog, but the T is more softly pronounced, and has more of a /d/ sound.

I don’t think there’s any need for an in-depth investigation into why these two different pronunciations exist. I think it’s enough to simply chalk it up to the numerous differences between British and American English (and of course there are variations on both pronunciations within the different varieties of both forms of English). What’s interesting to me is that the American pronunciation allows one to indulge in some childish humour, as below:

Yes, duty sounds the same as doody in American English. In fact, this is doubly unique to American English, as doody is only a childish euphemism for faeces in American English.

I can’t say I’m too upset that this avenue of humour is closed off to me, but it’s always interesting to note how wordplay can be so dependent on one’s particular form of English.

What’s a mystery though, is where the word doody comes from. Naturally I had to look up its etymology, but I can’t find a source. Perhaps it’s just one of those simple baby utterances. Or perhaps somewhere out there, waiting to be discovered, is the secret history of doody.

Hee hee! Doody.

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