Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Fri Jul 12 16:17:52 UTC 2002

What I meant by 'consistent' is that the distinction is maintained in all phonetic environments checked (Don/dawn, sock/talk, cot/caught, collar/taller) and is maintained in both production and perception. As expected many speakers claim to distinguish the vowels though their production belies this. More interesting are the cases of people who claim to merge them and fail perception tests to distinguish them despite the fact that they maintain a measurable difference in their actual production.

As for the contradiction of Labov's data with the claims of listers, I suspect this may be a sampling issue.  TELSUR sampled only a few speakers in each locale. Also, the goal was to examine ongoing changes and so the sample was biased to a certain extent in favor of young women. Still, the fact that they didn't find anyone out there who consistently distinguished the vowels is striking.

-----Original Message-----
From:   Peter A. McGraw [mailto:pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU]
Sent:   Fri 7/12/2002 10:37 AM
Subject:             Re: hawk/hock

In another post, Matthew Gordon observed:

"Labov's TELSUR project found noone in the NW who had a consistent
distinction between the low back vowels. The general pattern is as expected
of waves of the future: younger speakers merge while older speakers are

I suspect there must be a lot more complexity behind the word "consistent"
and the variability among older speakers than is captured in this simple
statement, and more to the agreement of Allen, Anne and myself in favor of
the distinction than a simple failure of all three of us to correctly
observe our own speech.

Peter Mc.

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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