NYT on Staten Island lingo

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Mon Dec 17 21:52:10 UTC 2007

In reply to the Staten Island vowel differences:  I can't explain the
"Anns", but the can aux. vs. can n. and the have/halve distinction is
general Metro Area.  What's happened here as that the first member of
each pair can exist in a weak stress form, being function words.
These, in turn, can get restressed, and when they were, they took the
"short" a, which would make sense, as they are usually unstressed and
unstressed vowels tend to be shorter than stressed ones.  Labov, I
believe recognizes this too--I seem to have read it someplace in his
full description of where a gets lengthened.  There are variants of
his rules within the Metro area--and there is variability within them
in certain cases.  This might explain the 2 "Anns".  I suspect it's
actually a case of variability, as suburban dialects vary as to
whether initial position blocks the raising rule or not.  (It doesn't
for me).  Any further feedback on this from others from Greater NY?

Paul Johnston
On Dec 15, 2007, at 5:53 AM, Grant Barrett wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Grant Barrett <gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG>
> Subject:      Re: NYT on Staten Island lingo
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> On Dec 14, 2007, at 12:59, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/nyregion/14journal.html
>> No mention of our Mr. Popik, though.
> There's also a City Room blog entry about a couple of vowel features
> on Staten Island. Also no mention of Mr. Popik.
> <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/speaking-english-staten-
> island-style/>
> Grant Barrett
> gbarrett at worldnewyork.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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