Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Mon Apr 7 17:36:44 UTC 2008


Labov is very much aware of the inglide of the raised and fronted
NCCS /ae/ and notes in several places that that is the main reason no
merger ever arises. The charts showing the pattern, however, do not
make this clear.


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Paul Johnston <paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: yahoo
>Hold it, with man and male.  It is true there are dialects out there
>with [eI] for both--Muddy Waters's AAVE, for instance  (Listen to
>either "I'm a Man" or "Hoochie Coochie Man", both [meI~(n)]).  But
>most dialects with "tensed ash" have an INgliding diphthong starting
>with something in the [e~I~E] range, or maybe, in the South, a
>triphthong made up of an upgliding diphthong plus schwa; male, on the
>other hand, has an UPgliding diphthong.  I can conceive of some
>Southern dialects having [aeI@] for both, with the /l/ of male
>generating a schwa before it (though I think of this as a Northern
>feature)/  There are also dialects with [E] in male (the gel=jail
>merger of the Midlands produces this).  Michael, do you really merge
>the two under one of these realizations?
>This is where Labov falls down in his account of the Northern Cities
>Vowel Shift, with his account of raising/tensing of /ae/, and
>"crossover" of /E/.  In NCVS territory, /ae/ is DIPHTHONGIZED, and
>the first element raises, and /E/ centralizes but remains
>monophthongal.  The same sort of crossover happened in the Great
>Vowel Shift in a whole bunch of dialects in England, particularly in
>the far North and far South.  Long /a:/ diphthongized to an ingliding
>diphthong with a raised first element, before /E:/ did anything (it
>eventually raises as a unit to [e:] or [i:]).  No crossover was
>involved, since the vowel nuclei were of different types.
>The way I was trained, a diphthong acts like a unit phonemically, but
>has a V1 and a V2 (first and second element) that are not identical.
>If V1=V2, you have a long vowel.  And, yes, I realize that the
>description in  this way is something of an idealization anyway,
>since in real speech, segments shade into each other.   A diphthong
>ending in schwa  (or anything non-high and not likely to be analyzed
>as a glide) is just as much of a diphthong as any other one.
>This is a side point.  If the vowel in man=male for you, this is
>probably another case of phonemic neutralization, which different
>schools of phonologists would treat differently.  Generative
>phonologists might well analyze it as you do.  Others might posit
>archiphonemes, which is something like Tom Zurinskas seems to do,
>probably without realizing it.  Others might posit lexical transfer,
>depending on what the surface realization is.  I doubt it is a case
>of total merger, since to my knowledge, no English dialects merge the
>WHOLE CAT class with the whole MATE/BAIT class.  But it's a debatable
>point in phonology anyway.
>On Apr 5, 2008, at 11:04 PM, LanDi Liu wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
>>  Subject:      Re: yahoo
>>  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>  ---------
>>  On Sun, Apr 6, 2008 at 6:29 AM, Michael Covarrubias
>>  <mcovarru at>
>>  wrote:
>>>  Scot LaFaive wrote:
>>>>  Essentially, phonemes are
>>>>  in your head and allophones are the actual production of phonemes in
>>>>  specific environments. I don't know of any other definitions for
>>>>  phoneme and allophone that phonologists use, so I'm not sure what
>>>>  you
>>>>  mean by "search engines give several definitions." I think I'll go
>>>>  with what phonologists mean by phoneme and allophone instead of
>>>>  Google
>>>>  and Yahoo.
>  >>> Scot
>>>  Something "in your head" isn't much of a definition. Phonologists
>>>  probably have more definitions of phoneme than Google and Yahoo
>>>  combined.
>>>  michael
>>>  Why not?  It's just a less technical way to say that phonemes are
>>  perceptual.  Allophones are the way that phonemes are physically
>>  expressed.
>>  A tapped /t/, an aspirated /t/, and an unaspirated /t/ are all the
>>  same
>>  phoneme, /t/, but are different allophones.  /t/, however, is a
>>  very clean
>>  example.  When you get into vowels, especially diphthongs, it gets
>>  tricky,
>>  and murky.  For example, some of you may think Mary, marry, and
>>  merry have
>>  different phonemes, but they're all the same for people like me who
>>  have
>>  merged them.
>>  And if you're American, you probably say "man" and "male" with the
>>  same
>>  vowel sound -- "man" with a tensed ash, and "male" the same way,
>>  but you
>>  also probably consider "man" to have a short a sound, and "male" to
>>  have a
>>  long a sound.  If you say them that way (and I do), you are using
>>  the same
>>  sound in two different phonemes.
>>  When defining an accent one must make some arbitrary decisions
>>  about what
>>  constitutes a phoneme in that accent, and what constitute
>>  allophones in each
>>  phoneme.  Usually we try to apply an objective rule to this
>>  process, like
>>  the idea that changing phonemes affects meaning, but changing
>>  allophones
>>  doesn't, but this is not always cut and dry.
>>  --
>>  Randy Alexander
>>  Jilin City, China
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

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