coffin pronunciation

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 15 02:08:06 UTC 2008

It was said  -- For me: "coffin" and "coughin'" have the same first-syllable vowel."Coffin" and "coughing" do not.

This is interesting to me.  I think the most effect for pronouncing a phoneme is future phonemes to come not past ones.  The theory is that a person knows whole sentences that they want to say.  They know the future sounds they want to make when they make any sound.  Thus the mouth forms sounds predicated on what motions it needs to make to get to the next one. Thus the tongue/mouth takes shortcuts and possibly works a little differently going from "cough" to ~eeng versus ~in affecting the sound.  This may not be so much as to change it from one phoneme to another.  It may be a slight (allophonic) change, or a whole phoneme change as well.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
See - and the 4 truespel books plus "Occasional Poems" at

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Dan Goodman
> Subject: Re: coffin pronunciation
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Lynne Murphy wrote:
>> Raised in a funeral home in NYS, therefore I pronounce it 'casket'.
>> ('Coffin' is for people who say 'undertaker', 'funeral parlor' and 'wake'
>> instead of 'funeral director', 'funeral home' and 'calling hours'.)
>> But I also have a caught/cot distinction and would use the open-o when
>> obnoxiously 'correcting' people on this matter--which I felt much need to
>> do as a child...
> Born (1943) and raised in Ulster County, NY, which at that time was part
> of the Hudson Valley Dialect region. (I'm told that Kingston has been
> annexed by the New York Metropolitan Area dialect; my part of Ulster
> County will probably take a while longer.)
> I definitely have the cot/caught distinction. (I now live in the Twin
> Cities, and don't need a dialect map to remind me that it isn't native
> here.)
> For me: "coffin" and "coughin'" have the same first-syllable vowel.
> "Coffin" and "coughing" do not.
> --
> Dan Goodman
> "I have always depended on the kindness of stranglers."
> Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Expire
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