Low Back Vowel Query

Matthew Gordon gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU
Fri Jan 28 17:11:02 UTC 2005

I have some evidence that suggests the opposite of what you're finding.

In written responses to a minimal pair test for the low back vowel merger in
Missouri, there are generally small differences in the reactions to the
pairs Don/Dawn and cot/caught. People who have the merger tend to have it in
both environments. One exception is in the southeast part of the state, the
area of strongest Southern influence historically. Here the merger appears
to be much more common prenasally (i.e. in Don/Dawn) than before /t/ (i.e.

I too would be interested to hear about any work on the conditioning effects
of the upglided open o vowel.

On 1/28/05 7:43 AM, "Terry Irons" <t.irons at MOREHEAD-ST.EDU> wrote:

> 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
> query.
> 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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