Anne Gilbert avgilbert at PRODIGY.NET
Sat Jul 13 02:21:33 UTC 2002


> On the other hand, I distinguish hawk-hawk (though not merry/marry/Mary,
> etc.) and find it outlandish that anyone would merge them, and yet I was
> just as surprised as Allen and Anne to learn that I'm apparently
> by people who do (merge them).  I apparently "project" my pronunciation on
> those around me.  I don't think there's a Washington/Oregon isogloss,
> though I also have to disqualify myself as a "pure" representative of
> Pacific NW speech, since I moved here in 5th Grade and both my parents
> from other parts of the country.  However, similar backgrounds are shared
> many, many other people residing in the Northwest and contributing to its
> linguistic mix.

Well, it's true most people in Seattle and surrounding areas have come here
from other parts of the country and bring their pronunciations and
peculiarities with them(which makes for some awfully interesting results).
My mother lived a good part of her life on the East Coast and made those
kinds of distinctions all the time(in fact she insisted on doing so), and
some of this has probably rubbed off on me, since I only conflate about half
of the pronunciations that Fritz says his students conflate in the Portland
area, and hawk-hock isn't one of them.  However, some people who hear me
talk end up asking me if I was born in Boston or somehwere similar.  To
them, I just don't sound quite "Northwestern", although I've lived here all
my life, except for two years in Central Texas, where I began picking up all
*their* "dialectical" pronunciations.
> 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
> of waves of the future: younger speakers merge while older speakers are
> variable."
> 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.

I, too, suspect something "generational" going on here, but what do I know?
I'm not a linguist.  Just a Starving Writer who loves words.
Anne G

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