hock/hawk (again)

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Wed Jul 17 20:22:08 UTC 2002

At 11:54 AM 7/16/2002 -0500, Millie Webb wrote:

 >As for the hock/hawk thing, I was born and raised in Saint Paul , all the
 >way through college.  I have always distinguished between Don/Dawn,
 >hock/hawk and palm/pom pairs.  I cannot claim I precisely "pronounce" the
 >'l' in "palm", but the vowel is definitely longer, and the 'l' creeps in --
 >even on a spectrogram (I have checked).  I find it annoying when people say
 >"hockey" like it's spelled "hahcky" though too.  In my experience, the
 >people from Chicaahhhgo are the ones who do that, and pronounce don=dawn.
 >Then again, I have always been interested in language (since childhood), and
 >take on the accents of the people around me very easily, whether I mean to
 >or not (trust me, it happens to me all the time).  If I am extremely relaxed
 >and talking fast, I am told you can still hear that I am from Minnesota
 >pretty easily.

As a Minnesotan who just got back from a few days with the family, I can
attest (with earlier writers) that the /a~O/ distinction is just about gone
in younger Minnesotans.  One 40-something niece still has it, but her
sister doesn't, and none of their kids have the split.  Mpls/St. Paul is
most advanced in the merger; after 50 years in the Cities even my
70-year-old brother has it before /t/ (predictably triggering merger first,
if I recall J.C. Wells' order correctly), while my sister and I don't.  I
have no distinction between 'palm tree' and 'pom' though--no /l/ or
lengthening in the first; however, the 'palm of my hand'  has a backer
vowel--not quite to 'thought' but more like British 'lot' (to cite Wells'
sets again).

By "hahcky" I assume you're referring to the front vowel raising common in
the Northern Cities Shift.  But why is it "annoying"?

BTW, I don't see the name of the city spelled "Saint" Paul very often.  In
St. Louis, the full spelling was reserved for Saint Louis University (as if
commemorating the French king/saint, although I don't know if that was the
original intent of the name in 1819; SLU's symbol is the fleur-de-lis, plus
that crazy Billiken).  Isn't this distinction generally kept in St. Paul too?

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