/or/ distinctions and more

David Bergdahl bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Mon Apr 17 14:44:30 UTC 2000

Laurence Horn wrote:
> At 11:14 AM -0400 4/13/00, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
> >But what
> >about 'sorry'?  It used to rhyme with 'sore' for me but doesn't now (except
> >in the idiom "a sorry mess"), though it still does (I think) for my
> >Minnesota family.  Come to think of it, it may now be [sari] for my brother
> >too.  Kid words which are also very high-frequency in adult discourse may
> >be more susceptible to change, I suspect--any thoughts on this?  A complex
> >picture indeed!
> >
> I grew up with the New Yorker's [ar] for all of these (that is, low
> relatively back unrounded, as in CAR), but when I went to college in
> upstate New Yorker, I became self-conscious enough to adapt to the
> indigenous [or] (as in SORE, with open o/backward c) in such words as
> "forest", "moral", "orange", "Oregon", and especially "corridor"--after my
> KAH-r at -dor pronunciation got mocked once too often for my comfort.  I
> mostly still use the SORE vowel for these words (although it's somewhat
> variable), but I don't think I ever switched over on "sorry".  I'm not sure
> what determined this, other than the shibboleth status of "corridor" and,
> to a lesser extent, "orange".  Anyway, it's interesting that others might
> have shifted in the opposite (or-->ar) direction.
> larry

--My experience in Syracuse NY in the late 1950s is the same as Larry's;
my recollection is that the people most offended by my speech were from
NE Penna.  How many times I was asked to say CHOCKOLATE or COFFEE for my
rounded vowel (which began high back & glided to open O).
David Bergdahl          http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~bergdahl
tel:  (740) 593-2783
366 Ellis Hall     Ohio University  Athens, Ohio 45701-2979       fax:
(740) 593-2818

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