Low Back Vowel Query

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Fri Jan 28 18:43:17 UTC 2005

I have never heard any New Yorker do this vowel (in any position)
with other than an inglide; an upglide seems impossible in that


>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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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages
A-740 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 432-3099
Fax: (517) 432-2736
preston at msu.edu

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