Man & male

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 8 17:56:57 UTC 2008

At 1:13 AM +0800 4/9/08, LanDi Liu wrote:
>On Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 12:13 AM, Paul Johnston <paul.johnston at>
>>  Thank you, Randy--I'm sorry in misidentifying you--yes, your pattern
>>  matches that of most of my students at Western Michigan.  It sounded
>>  like you were saying there was a complete merger in all situations,
>>  but obviously it isn't. (Some Midwestern speakers might have a
>>  triphthong in  male by the way--my wife's name is Gail, and for my
>>  Northern Ohio-born nieces, she's [e at nti gei at l].) We could debate the
>>  idea of what the underlying form is in these two words, but your
>>  points are taken.
>>  Lexical transfer is a historical process of partial merger, where
>>  some items that originally belonged to one sound class (phoneme) are
>>  put into another one by sound change.  Your case is a classic one
>>  which involves phonological conditioning, both in the raising of ash
>>  and the diphthongization pre-/l/ resulting in the same vowel.  It can
>>  also happen on a purely one-off, idiosyncratic basis, usually due to
>>  dialect contact or a sound change that didn't quite go to completion
>>  or is just beginning.  That's what produces my New Jersey vowel in
>>  dog= [do at g], as opposed to hog, fog, frog, log, cog, (egg)nog, all
>>  with [A~A@], i. e. the COT vowel, not the CAUGHT vowel, which dog
>>  has.  Dog has been transferred to CAUGHT.  My terminology comes from
>>  my training in Scots, among people like Jack Aitken or David
>>  Abercrombie.
>Do your students pronounce "dog" differently than other "og" words?

As we've discussed before, a lot of Northeasterners (not just me)
have no words that rhyme with "dog" (unless you count "dog"!), which
has an open o (or something like it), with a possible off-glide,
while the the "fog"/"frog" family all have [a], although I'd be happy
to rhyme FAWG (= acronym for the Federation of Associated Working
Grammarians) with "dog" if I saw it in print.


>For me,
>dog, hog, frog, and anything with "og" has the same vowel as "law".  I'm a
>little confused about the so-called "cot-caught merger".  In my own normal
>conversational speech, there is definitely no differentiation between "cot"
>and "caught" (merged), and all of the words with those two vowels, but when
>I say a word from one of those two classes by itself (outside of a
>sentence), the two vowels are unmistakably distinct from each other
>This is something that I see as a big problem in Labov's work.  From what I
>can tell (I can't afford ANAE ($600, bitch, please!), so I've only seen (and
>heard) what's available for free on the web, and read some papers he has on
>his site) he doesn't get clear samples of both strong and weak forms of each
>vowel class.  Also, there is really a continuum of strong and weak forms,
>with phonological processes governing their change as speech gets faster.  I
>think if one is going to describe accents, and especially the differences
>between them, all of those things have to be looked at.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list