Low Back Vowel Query

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jan 28 15:25:17 UTC 2005

There seems to be a slight upglide in my NYC pronunciation of "cawed" and "sawed" but virtually none in "bought" or "caught."  All these of course are still monophthongs in my speech, but after muttering them aloud even I can hear what you're talking about.

Have never thought about this before.


Terry Irons <t.irons at MOREHEAD-ST.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Terry Irons
Subject: Low Back Vowel Query

Across much of the south, the back vowel in words such as hawk has a
strong back upglide. In fact, in some cases, it is the upglide that
distinguishes words such as cod and cawed, which show a near merger in
the speech of some. But in analyzing the speech of some people in
Kentucky, I have noticed a curious pattern, which is the basis of this

Again and again, I have observed the lose of the back upglide before
voiceless alveolar stops. For example, cawed and talk both have an
upglide, but words such as bought and taught do not. They are
monophthongal. I am wondering if anyone else has observed or commented
on such a conditioned loss of this glide, and whether this process may
be a factor in the back vowel merger. If so, it might such that the
merger is merger by approximation in some places, rather than merger by
expansion as has been argued by others (e.g. Herold)

Virtually, Terry
Terry Lynn Irons t.irons at morehead-st.edu
Voice Mail: (606) 783-5164
Snail Mail: UPO 604 Morehead, KY 40351

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