The changes just keep on coming.

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Oct 21 17:15:41 UTC 2005

On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 08:11:11 -0400, David Bowie wrote:

>Somewhat-unrelated personal history on orthographic <aw>: The
>(University of) Georgia Bulldogs get cheered on by the shout "Go
>Dawgs!", the <aw> being pronounced, of course, with an [open-o].

But <dog> is typically pronounced with the "caught" vowel anyway
(according to Labov this is true throughout the unmerged regions of the
U.S., while other <-og> words show a great deal of dialect variation). So
if <dawg> is a pronunciation spelling distinct from <dog>, then I would
assume it represents a more exaggerated "caught" vowel -- perhaps backed
and lengthened (even triphthongized).

>Provo (Utah) High School's mascot is also the Bulldogs. I always found
>it incredibly disconcerting (when i worked at Brigham Young
>University, the main entrance to which is pretty much right next to the
>high school's playing field) to see "Go Dawgs!" painted on the side of
>the school, which i knew was pronounced with an [a].
>It just always seemed *wrong* to me--in my nicely ordered little
>orthographic world, <aw> is always [open-o], and [a] is <ah>--it
>*should* have been "Go Dahgs!". I couldn't ever get the
>cot-caught-merged folk out there to understand what i was going on about
>when it came up, though.

Are those cot-caught mergerers making any distinction between orthographic
<dog> and <dawg>? Vowel length, at least?

--Ben Zimmer

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