Earlier this month I wrote about the military acronym strac, which I came across in Robert Crais’s novel L. A. Requiem (1999). Something else I noticed in that book was this curious spelling:
“That was kind’ve goofy, wasn’t it […]?”
Obviously a nonstandard rendition of kind of; I made a note of it and kept reading. Being on a winter binge of detective fiction, I read Michael Connelly’s The Last Coyote (1995) soon after that and saw the same strange form, this time repeatedly:
“I’m kind’ve freelancing on an old case, Leroy.”
“We just kind’ve sparred around for a few minutes but then I left him something.”
“It’s kind’ve like the more they push one way, the more I push the other.”
“Kind’ve an undercover thing.”
“Well, it was kind’ve like one of those Catch-22 situations.”
So we see its use isn’t limited syntactically: it can modify adjectives, verbs, nouns, etc. – but always in dialogue, at least from the two authors I’ve seen use it so far.
Kind’ve for kind of presumably arises because of the phonetic equivalence of unstressed of and ’ve in speech – the /əv/ sound is misanalysed when put on the page, perhaps deliberately to convey a character’s earthiness or unsophistication. It’s a sort of inverse of the would have → would of variation I wrote about last year (and have since updated with additional literary examples).*
A quick online search shows that kind’ve is not uncommon in informal language. A couple of people at Yahoo! Answers call it an acceptable colloquialism, but the majority don’t. (Another option, kinda, drops the v sound, so it wouldn’t necessarily be an accurate transcription.)
Kind’ve and company are an understandable development, but an unsound one in my view – despite appearing in edited books by well-known writers. My advice is to avoid kind’ve: there are other ways to convey informality, and it’s more likely readers will be confused, annoyed, or distracted by this kind of orthographic meddling.
What do you think?
* Speaking of which, an Urban Dictionary definition says sort’ve is “the new would of!” and notes sarcastically that it “serves to demonstrate that “have” and “of” are now completely interchangeable”.