coffin pronunciation

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 14 00:18:52 UTC 2008

At 3:29 PM -0400 3/13/08, Baker, John wrote:
>         I distinguish cot/caught, and I've spent the last few minutes
>saying "coffin" aloud and listening to myself.  The vowel sounds are the
>same, but the f sound in "coffin" is slightly different from the f sound
>in "coughin'" - more emphatic, somehow.  The lower lip placement is not
>quite the same.  Can anyone explain to me what's going on with that?

I don't know, but I think that's what I was getting at too when I
said they're both open-o for me but intuitively not quite homophones.
My wife (< Greenwich/Stamford, CT) claims that she would never say
"coughin'" (only "coughing"), but if she really had to, it would be a
homophone of "coffin".  I could be wrong about my own non-homophone
claim--the difference, if it exists, is very subtle.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>Of Scot LaFaive
>Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 3:09 PM
>Subject: Re: coffin pronunciation
>>My question for those of you who maintain the distinction between /a/
>open-o: Do you all have /a/ for 'coffin'?
>I distinguish between "cot" and "caught" and I say "coffin" with an
>On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 1:53 PM, Matthew Gordon <gordonmj at>
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Matthew Gordon <gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU>
>>  Subject:      coffin pronunciation
>>  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>  ---------
>>  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.
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
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