are we making since yet?

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Wed Apr 20 12:18:45 UTC 2005

From:    "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> meanwhile, ron butters wrote:

>> The pin/pen "neutralization" is pretty widespread. In my
>> experience, it is not a merger in the sense that one or the other
>> phones is invariably selected..; rather, it is realized variably as
>> anything between [I] and [E].

> so long as the means of /I/ and /E/ are not significantly different,
> this is a true merger; you have one phoneme with variation through
> the [I]-to-[E] space, and this phoneme occurs in words that have /I/
> or /E/ for other speakers.  i believe this is the case for many
> southern speakers.  i also believe that there are southern speakers
> with two phonemes, but with a lot of variation for each and with a
> *lot* of overlap between their phonetic ranges.

And that's why i don't agree with the definition of "merger" that you
give above--you can have two phonemes, the means of which differ
insignificantly, but that have significantly different distributions.

 From before my dissertation, i've used z/t-tests to test for merger,
but i'm becoming more and more convinced there's got to be some *way*
better statistical tests for it--any ideas? (My father-in-law, a
mathematician, has floated some to my mind bizarre but maybe workable
ideas past me.)


David Bowie                               
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

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