coffin pronunciation

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Mar 14 15:42:33 UTC 2008

I have a tin ear, but I was noticing something similar in my pron.
also. I was using "Put him in his coffin" and "I was coughin' up a
storm." I'm wondering if I was stressing the final -in syllable
differently in both: I think I'm giving the "coughin'" a secondary
stress on that final syllable, but leaving that syllable unstressed
in "coffin." That might be changing the quality of the /f/ in the
words. However, that doesn't address the quality of the vowel, which
I think is the same in my pron.

---Amy West (upstate NY/CT/MA)

>Date:    Thu, 13 Mar 2008 20:18:52 -0400
>From:    Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject: Re: coffin pronunciation
>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.

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