oxen / dachshund

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Feb 12 19:00:36 UTC 2003

At 1:36 PM -0600 2/12/03, Mai Kuha wrote:
>In one of Sprint's most recent TV ads, the Sprint PCS guy comes to the
>rescue of a farmer who had ordered 200 oxen using a low quality cell phone
>with static, so the order was misunderstood and 200 dachshund were
>delivered. It finally hit me that "200 oxen" and "200 dachshund" aren't just
>close, but actually identical in the ad, because the actor playing the
>farmer pronounces the first vowel of "oxen" as "ae" (the vowel of "bad"), or
>something close to it. Am I hearing that correctly? (These American English
>vowels still throw me for a loop after all these years.) ...and if "oxen"
>does have "ae", is that an example of a regional feature? possibly the
>fronting of the nucleus of "ay", which some researchers include in the
>Southern Vowel Shift??
I'll have to listen for it next time the ad comes on (I'm always
distracted by the lassoing scene), but I'd have thought you could
neutralize the distinction more easily by pronouncing both of them
(oxen, dachshund) with a back [a] rather than a front [ae].  Of
course, if the farmer had ordered 200 dachshund, he'd have received
200 hot dogs along with an authentic T.A.D. Dorgan souvenir cartoon


More information about the Ads-l mailing list