What in the name of The Fresh Prince is going on?
You know that annoying word that every person from Philly says that basically is a street version of “Smurf”, a word to describe any person, place or thing… yeah that word… “Jawn”. Well, thanks to Merriam-Webster it’s about to be up in the dictionary.
Philadelphia, this jawn's for you. https://t.co/e9Ux87wkA4
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) October 4, 2017
Did you hear us? UP IN THE DICTIONARY!!!!!
Word to Black Thought, on Wednesday, October 4th, Merriam-Webster announced on Twitter that this word will be added to their “Words We’re Watching”.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word jawn’s etymological beginnings are etched in your Ole’ Head’s favorite word, “joint”. No really, this Philly Gen X staple has real brains breaking down how it became the favorite word from Wynnefield to 5th and Diamond.
Peep this from the Merriam-Webster website:
“William Labov, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania interested in dialects, began making field recordings of Philadelphians back in the 1970s. These recordings eventually turned into an important sociolinguistic corpus—and also help us pinpoint the development of jawn from joint. A recording taken in 1981 of a young black man from West Philly has him using the word joint (which came, again, from New York hip-hop), but in a broader way than even the hip-hop artists used it. According to Taylor Jones, a PhD student who has researched the origins of jawn and worked with Labov’s Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus, the young man used joint to refer to a bag, a place, women, and his own genitalia. These are uses that joint did not have in New York City. Philadelphia’s joint had become its own joint.
But how did joint turn into jawn?
It’s likely because of the phonetics of Philadelphia, and possibly because the way that the word joint changed as it moved south. The further north you get, the more /oi/ you tend to hear in joint. In Washington DC, this joint sounds more like jaunt; in Memphis, users report the spelling of this particular joint as junt to match its pronunciation. In Philly, that final -t was dropped, giving the city jawn.”
For more information as to why “jawn” is about to be the new “bling bling” sure to drive your English teacher bonkers, check the Merriam-Webster’s very academic study of this very hip-hop word.