Dialect change

Karl Krahnke krahnke at LAMAR.COLOSTATE.EDU
Sat Nov 2 05:28:02 UTC 2002

The discussion on dialect change in song raises an issue I have been
vaguely aware of for some time and on which I recently received some
surprising evidence.

I do not regularly listen to popular music of any kind (that is not meant
as a snobbish remark--I just don't), but when I do hear sort of mainstream
vocals (sorry, I can't be more precise, yet) I frequently notice the singer
using a relatively r-less pronunciation and monophthonizing /ai/
diphthongs. There may be other features, but I have not noticed them. Yet,
as several of you have noted, when the singer is interviewed, s/he uses a
fully r-ful dialect with diphthongs.

I thought I was on to some unrecognized sociolinguistic change that I would
get around to researching some day, when I mentioned this phenomenon to a
freshman class of mine--extremely linguistically naive and r-pronouncing,
diphthongizers. They shrugged and said that it was nothing new to them,
that several had taken pop singing lessons and that was a basic part of the

I haven't gone any further with this. Is this common knowledge? Any similar

Karl Krahnke
English Department
Colorado State University

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