coffin pronunciation

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 13 19:25:13 UTC 2008

Matthew Gordon wrote:
> I was listening to a podcast featuring 2 thirty-something New Yorkers. One
> of them pronounced 'coffin' with an open-o, and the other ridiculed him,
> saying something about how it's not 'coughin'.
> My question for those of you who maintain the distinction between /a/ and
> open-o: Do you all have /a/ for 'coffin'? I'm wondering whether this is
> another example of a word that varies in its phonemic assignment.

This 50-something NYer, from the close-in suburbs, grew up with regular
mocking of the open-o pronunciation of "coffee". While I would pronounce
"coffin" with /a/, and other NYers might as well, I wouldn't discount
generalized mockery, evoked by the similarity to coffee.

Alice Faber                                    faber at
Haskins Laboratories                           tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                        fax (203) 865-8963

The American Dialect Society -

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