A funny kind’ve spelling

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 havewould 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”.


22 Responses to A funny kind’ve spelling

  1. marc leavitt says:

    You’re right; it’s the kind of sloppy editing that ends up in text because the editor was tired, and subconciously confused “of” with “‘ve” because it looks better to him on the page, in parallel with the other contractions we use in speech, giving “‘ve” a faux legitimacy.
    The problem is, that left unchecked, this sort of mishearing/reading becomes a convention, and pretty soon everyone is doing it, except for people who kind of pay attention to this sort of orthographic substitution.

  2. I sort’ve quite like it. Observe and don’t judge, I say.

  3. Shaun Downey says:

    Never seen this before Stan. It’s not really a worthwhile abbrevition though…. or any abbreviation at all for that matter!

  4. Stan says:

    Marc: Hmm. I’d say it’s more likely the author stetted it, certainly in Connelly’s case where the spelling is used several times throughout the book. As you say, repeated use may eventually turn it into a more acceptable convention, but until then I see no reason to adopt it.

    Beverley: It may grow on me. I’m not judging, though: just recommending avoidance, for now, in certain contexts.

    Shaun: It’s fairly new to me too. I suppose you could argue that ‘ve indicates a shorter or more unstressed syllable than of, but I’m not sure it’s a worthwhile gain.

  5. Steeny Lou says:

    Be still, my grammatically beaten heart. “Would of” gives me palpitations as it is. And now “sort’ve”? Here comes the atrial fibrillation.

  6. mollymooly says:

    It would be *slightly* useful to have a phonetic spelling of weak-form /əv/ “of”, especially for those of us for whom the corresponding strong form has the LOT vowel rather than the STRUT vowel. However:

    * we have “-a” for the /ə/ weak form in kinda, shoulda, woulda, etc; how often does an author need to insist that the character said /əv/ rather than /ə/?

    * most words with weak forms have no common spelling indication. Even ‘n for “and” is rarely appropriate in prose (as opposed to pop song titles, hair salon names, etc.)

    * no candidate for “of” seems workable (kind’ve, kind uv, kind’f, kind’v, …?)

  7. Vicky says:

    Annoying, unnecessary and uneconomical given the extra character it requires!

  8. limr says:

    I’ve never actually seen that before. At first glance, it triggers a nervous twitch in my eye. I’m good friends with kinda and sorta but I get a “single white female” vibe from kind’ve. It’s strutting its non-standardness a little too shrilly. Poseur.

  9. Stan says:

    Steeny Lou: Deep breaths!

    mollymooly: Yes, it would be good to have a legitimate phonetic spelling of unstressed of. The fact that both Crais and Connelly – and maybe other writers – have taken up ‘ve might indicate that it’s spreading somewhat, but I expect it will be strongly resisted by most editorial gatekeepers. I can’t see kind’f or kind’v catching on, but kind uv has some colloquial currency.

    Vicky: And yet it’s sometimes preferred by bestselling authors, and allowed by their editors and publishers. Go figure.

    Leonore: Ha. I understand your reaction. I’ve had a few weeks to get used to it – and I have, but just a little.

  10. Eugene says:

    Since the pronunciation of “of” is, in fact /əv/, why do writers need to render it in eye dialect? It’s a lot of distraction for no real gain. The voicing happens automatically, and the vowel is either lax or reduced. Let the reader hear it as he or she sees fit.
    Given that the contraction of “have” has already taken ‘ve, I agree that writers might as well avoid it in representing “of.” However, I kinda like mollymooly’s suggestion, kinduv.

  11. I’m surprised and distressed by the Urban Dictionary’s comment about have and of becoming interchangeable. We could probably entertain ourselves coming up with examples of goofy substitutions (e.g., I think I’ll of another pint) but frankly I don’t understand UD’s statement other than the fact the ‘ve and of sound very similar. So does uv.

  12. dainichi says:

    Could the ‘ve rendering be indicating that the schwa is not pronounced, i.e kind’ve=[kaɪndv], kind of=kinduv=[kaɪndəv]?

    [ndv] might be breaking some phonotactic rule, not sure, but nevertheless seems pronounceable.

    I’m not saying that’s a distinction worth making.

  13. John Cowan says:

    Kinda is an excellent representation of the allegro pronunciation of kind of, at least the way I say it. This would be as in kind of goofy, not as in kind of meat, of course.

  14. I don’t like it. I can accept unconventional spelling in dialogue when it’s approximating an accent, but what does this do? Nothing much as far as I can see, except interrupt flow.

  15. I absolutely hate it. Kind uv, or kinduv, is okay, but ‘ve is illiterate.

  16. Stan says:

    Thank you all for the constructive (and heartfelt!) comments. I didn’t know if there was much mileage in the topic, so I’m delighted by the discussion and various analyses and responses under my post. A couple of quick points:

    Mark, I think the UD comment is a wry reference to would of and similar constructions, and may’ve been inspired by the perception that they’re on the increase.

    dainichi: An interesting suggestion, but I don’t think this ‘ve is meant to indicate a schwa-less pronunciation.

  17. Gabe says:

    I’m late to the party here, but I love “kind’ve” for detective fiction. I can’t put a finger on why exactly; it just seems hard-boiled, perhaps because it strongly suggests an /Iv/ pronunciation to me. I’m getting ever fonder of this spelling the more I think about it.

    • Stan says:

      Good to see a different reaction to this, Gabe, though I haven’t warmed to it in the intervening months. It doesn’t seem hard-boiled to me at all, just unnecessary and injudicious. I’d sooner writers striving for effect here to use kinda or kind uv. The “kind’ve” spelling could be put to service in phrases like “Our family’ve long been here. Our kind’ve always lived here.”

  18. Paul says:

    Looking for correct anwsers on Yahoo is kind of like shooting yourself in the face with a pellet gun – painful, pointless and totally inadequate.

    • Stan Carey says:

      I wouldn’t rely on it either, Paul, but people often prefer to ask the communities they’re part of. And it’s not all bad, unlike shooting oneself in the face.

  19. […] spelling mistake, why do we never see spellings like pint’ve beer or a man’ve his word? (Though we do, occasionally, see sort’ve or kind’ve). This otherwise puzzling asymmetry is explained if the spelling of in should of etc. is supported […]

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