Paul A Johnston, Jr. paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Thu Apr 20 14:06:20 UTC 2006

I have heard fairly close [O:] pronunciations occasionally by Chicagoans (although low back forms are
more common), but nothing like [o:] or [oU].  Even New Yorkers don't usually do this--lawn is [lo3n]
or [lU3n], while loan is [loUn] with centralized o, [l^un] or maybe [l3un].  If NYers are "on their best
behavior", they might have a fairly tense [O:], but in this position, it's hard not to have at least a
fleeting [3] offglide here.  Southern dialects might have upgliding diphthongs here in both, but the first
elements would be different, and for innovative speakers, the second elements also ([U] in lawn, [Y] in
loan).  Most North American dialects I know of that have [o:] or [oU] in loan have [O:] or lower/
fronter/less rounded in lawn.  The only speakers I've heard merge the two are ones with a different
first language than English, preferably one with no low-mid/high-mid distinction.

Paul Johnston

The American Dialect Society -

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