phonological features [etc.]

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 6 17:34:13 UTC 2008

On 7/4 Marc Velasco wrote:

> 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]
> I *think* I use both.
> If asked how to pronounce, I would say your [yowr] and you're [yowr]; but in
> practice, I probably use [yuwr] often.
> (Btw, I read [yuwr] as [yer], ... sounds like "get 'r done" and not like a
> fast speaking version of "ewe were".)

And Wilson Gray commented:

> 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?

So I asked:

> Marc, do you realize that when we use brackets* we intend an
> approximation of formal phonetic notation, not just some general kind
> of "sound spelling"? [yer] is not the same as the fast colloquial
> pronunciation often written as "yer" or "y'r", rhyming with "her";
> [yer] would rhyme with many pronunciations of "their" or "hair".

Today (7/6) Ron Butters remarked:

> This seems well meaning, but it strikes me as unnecessarily pedantic. It was
> perfectly clear that the writer was using the brackets to indicate "an
> approximation of ... phonetic" spelling in contrast to dictionary spelling. The fact
> that the "phonetic" spelling was not in a "formal" system that "thnidu"
> approves of does not make it any the less "phonetic."

(Oops, didn't I sign that? Thnidu is me, Mark Mandel; I often sign as "m a m".)

I was addressing Wilson's confusion, which I shared. Marc V's transcriptions up to that point made sense as ASCII approximations of Americanist IPA phonology, and I took them as such. In fact, reading "[yowr"] as English-orthography transcription yields IPA-ish [yaUr], nothing like any pronunciation of "your" that I've ever heard of. But Marc's last item, about reading "[yuwr] as [yer]", didn't make sense as anything like IPA. So I asked; and he replied, shortly after Ron's comment,

> I did not, but do so now.

I wasn't trying to insist that he or anyone use only quasi-formal transcription, just trying to clear up some confusion -- which, as it turns out, existed on both ends.

Mark Mandel (/'mark maen'dEl/)

The American Dialect Society -

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