The use of “whelp,” “whelk” and such words in place of “welt” is clearly due to their similarity in sound, but the fact that these substitutions have a long history and wide use raises them to the level of regional variations (i.e., not simply “mistakes”). I wouldn’t use “whelp” for “welt” in a college essay, but that doesn’t make people who use it in everyday conversation in any way ignorant. Similarly, you may have encountered the use of “toboggan” to mean “knitted cap” rather than a type of long sled (from “tobakun,” the Canadian Algonquian Indian word for such sleds), but “toboggan” in this sense is simply a short form of “toboggan hat,” and is heard all over the Southern US, far from any “sleddable” quantity of snow.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Danny S.:

    I first heard “whelp” (or or rather “whelped”) when studying Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where it is used in the line “A lioness hath whelped in the streets”. I was given to understand that it referred to any animal giving birth, or the animals so born. Shakespeare certainly didn’t think it was restricted to dogs.

  2. Klucia:

    Dear Sir,

    it may be interesting to read about The First Love by Ivan Turgenev. Two boys fall in love with a young woman: the father and his son, a boy. The first soon became a lover with Zina (the girl’s name), the second – her admirer to see his father welting her arm in the feast of rage when tarting back her words on his horse by the window. The picturesque humor of Turgenev often contains “some hidden teaching sense” of the situations the people are in for those outside. I mean, the boy could did nothing but realize himself as a whelp in front of his father. Look, it resembles the gate of the Raven in the poem by E.Poe. I suppose, the “twin pages” in Russia are Turgenev’s.
    Best regards.

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