phonological features; was What's in a Name? The Black Panthers in Israel

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 4 19:32:30 UTC 2008

Another one on the several phonetic shocks that I've been subject to
in life was the discovery, during a phonetics class at UC Davis, the
white people - (Northern?) Californians, at least - used "wuz" as the
citation pronunciation of "was" and not "wahz." Then I flashed on the
fact that black people, who use "wahz" [waz] as the citation
pronunciation of "was" also generally use "lahv" [lav] as the
"standard" pronunciation of "love." (I use [l^v], but that's out of
the mainstream of black use.)

That is, perhaps BE has simply shifted [^] to [a] /[+voiced] or some
such and has not preserved an historical pronunciation lost to white

Marc Velasco wrote:

"[Yer] gonna hurt yourself.

"And I imagine I'd pronounce the yourself as [yerself] in both cases."

I agree with him, here, but I don't understand the claim that he
"read[s] [yuwr] as [yer] ..." "Hears 'you were' as [yer],' perhaps?

And I should have made clear that, when I wrote "you're," I had in
mind the contracted form of "you are" and not that of "you were,"
which isn't contracted in my speech.



On Fri, Jul 4, 2008 at 2:18 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: phonological features; was What's in a Name? The Black
>              Panthers in Israel
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Thu, Jul 3, 2008 at 11:36 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
>> From: Mark Mandel <thnidu at>
>> >I pronounce "your(s)" and "you're" identically, so far as I can tell.
>> Do you mean that there's a third way?:
>> 1) your(s) [yowr(z)]; you're [yuwr]
>> 2) your(s) [yuwr(z)]; you're [yowr]
>> 3) your(s) [yuwr(z); you're [yuwr] or your(s) [yowr(z)]; you're [yowr]
> 4: your((s) [yowr(z)]; you're [yowr]
>>Yes. But what I'm getting at is that I had no idea that "your(s)"
>>[yowr(s)] was considered "lower class or country" by some speakers.
>>>>From my at-that-time inexperienced point of view, Al Capp's spelling
>>of "your(s)" as "yore(s)" in eye-dialect was completely mysterious,
>>since it implied that there were speakers who didn't use "yore(s)" as
>>the ordinary standard pronunciation and I didn't know of the existence
>>of any such speakers till I was in my twenties.
> Larry Horn replied:
>> It's hard to know what to conclude from eye-dialect spellings,
>> though, given the convention of using "wuz" for "was", presumably to
>> indicate that if there *were* a nonstandard pronunciation of "was",
>> the speaker would use it.
> What he said.
> m a m
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