Semi = Large tractor-trailer rig

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Jan 12 13:09:49 UTC 2000

Mean Rudy (natcherly) agree on this, and the /E/~/I/ alternation is purely
dialectal, not related to this lexical item.
For me the /sImay/ pronunciation is categorical for trucks (even when in
the compound, e.g., semi-trailer); in other constructions, I fear the north
bug has bit me. I seem to use /sImiy/ when I am being fancy
(semiconductors) and /sImay/ when I am being plainfolks (/sImay/tough).
I suspect any laxing in /sI/Emiy/ (e.g., /sI/EmI/) may al;so be more
regional than anything else, reflecting a southern laxer vowel (e.g.,
northern through South Midland versus deeper southern final vowel in


dInIs (been up hyar too long)

Now if we weren't so lazy that we all said "articulated lorry," we wouldn't
have all this squabble.

>        Here in the Southwest, where we are overrun with these things, I
>hear them referred to only as /sImayz/ or /sEmayz/ (primary stress on
>first syllable, secondary [word-level] or tertiary stress on the second).
>Like Natalie, my Texan ears don't readily distinguish /Im/ from /Em/, so I
>can't swear as to the quality of the first vowel. /sImiy/ is used only as
>the first part of a compound, as in "semi-tractor trailer rig".
>        Rudy Troike

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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