Possibly, the name Jebediah derives from the name Jedediah. If so, then what phonological phenomenon is this an example of, and what are other examples of it?

  • Maybe it is just a portmanteau: Jeb + Jedediah → Jebediah. Or even a mistaken parallel: Jed/Jedediah → Jeb/Jebediah*. – Adám Jun 26 '14 at 20:31
  • Wow I'm not dyslexic, but I sat there looking at this title thinking "is this some kind of elaborate joke? Jebediah -> Jebediah?" – Miles Rout Jul 2 '14 at 20:32
  • Don't get me wrong, I like the fancy language development theories and elaborate psycho-/physiological explanations behind them as the next guy, but we are talking some rather obscure names here. IMHO this might be a very accidental phenomenon, where somebody read a name (or two, see jknappen's contamination idea) long time ago, possibly in childhood, and then simply confused the name later in life when giving name to their offspring. Lots of kids do this - I watched an episode of Star Trek introducing the Borg when I was around 8 and then I was just running around and calling things "irrelema – Eleshar Dec 22 '16 at 22:31

This could be an example of dissimilation. One prevailing theory about the mechanism for this kind of phenomenon is the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP). Similar (output) patterns are well-attested in Arabic, for example.

Here is a quotation from Frisch, Pierrehumbert, & Broe (2004), referencing the history of this observation: "Greenberg first observes that there are no roots that repeat the same consonant in first and second position (e.g., ∗dadam, though McCarthy (1994) reports one verb of this form). Many verbs are found with identical consonants in the second and third positions of the root. Examples include madad ‘stretch’ and farar ‘flee’."

You may notice right away that the Arabic pattern is different from your example (the constraint applies to first and second consonant position, not second and third).

  • Jebediah is not a Hebrew name. I do not see that your Semitic references have any relevance to this question. – fdb Jun 27 '14 at 0:01
  • 2
    It has nothing to do with Semitic. OCP is a general language principle. – Jeremy Needle Jun 27 '14 at 2:02
  • Isn't the OCP supposed to be a restriction on underlying forms? If so, how can it cause dissimilation (as a synchronic input-to-output process)? – TKR Jun 28 '14 at 5:00
  • This is a big question, but I can relate a common simplification: listening to a speaker produce 'jedediah', a person's perception could be influenced by an OCP effect, leading to them hear instead 'jebediah'. If the bias were strong enough, this could happen frequently, be reproduced, and then you get increasing bias toward 'jebediah' as the frequency of that form increases in the population. – Jeremy Needle Jun 30 '14 at 20:02

It can also be a contamination from the biblical name Zebadiah.

Zebadiah mixed up with Jedediah gives Jebediah.

P.S. (This is an answer to the question in comment: Is it a joke?) It is partly an elaborated joke indeed. The name Jebediah was popularised by the TV show Simpsons. But Jebediah Smith (as founder of Springfield) is an anachronism.

The name is in use in the USA, as the SSA data show, since 1973.

This trend was caused by the figure Jebediah Nightlinger in the film The Cowboys (1972)

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