Attitudes toward either, envelope (was free variation)

Dale Coye Dalecoye at AOL.COM
Wed Apr 4 23:44:10 UTC 2001

I don't know if there's such a thing as free variation either, and I also
acknowledge the inaccuracy of self-observation, nonetheless, I did collect
some evidence on attitudes toward /i:/-ther vs. /aI/-ther and EN-velope vs.
ON-velope (AS 69.3, 1994).   In a survey of Princeton freshmen through a
questionnaire I found both pronunciations of both words from all corners of
the North America, and of the respondents 10-30% (depending on region) said
they used both.  Of those using exclusively /i:/, 1/3 to 1/2 (again depending
on region) rejected /ai/ as 'snobby, pretentious' etc.  Of those using /ai/,
only 18% rejected /i:/.   So in other words, many more people say they find
/ai/ objectionable than find /i:/ objectionable.
   I found EN and ON in envelope in all regions of the country, but the
percentages varied widely from region to region.   40-60% of EN- users
rejected ON as pretentious.  But ON users were equally intolerant of  EN.

Dale Coye
The College of NJ
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