the long vowels as monophthongs

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sun May 4 15:42:45 UTC 2008

I have stopped reading Mr. Truespell's  postings, but if I remember correctly he argues (faced with obvious spwcrographic evidence)  that the "long" vowels are "pure"--they are just always followed by offglides.

That is, he is merely using a somewhat idiosyncratic definition of "diphthong" in which a "diphthong" must require back-to-front, or front-to-back, and/or low-to-high movement. Thus /iy/, /ow/, etc. are not "true" diphthongs, but /oy/, /aw/, and /ay/ are. Another way of looking at it is to say that diphthongs must be "phonemic," not phonetic.

If I'm right about this, then this is only a trivial argument about terminology--everybody agrees about the underlying reality.

Or truespel may even have a small point with respect to psychological reality, since the long-vowel offglides are (as Ben notes) unconscious for native speakers, whereas the "true" diphthongs are functional.

In many respects all this mirrors phonoogical-theoretical controversies from the 1950s concerning allophones, phonemes, and "psychological reality"--which all seemed pretty trivial by about 1970.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>

Date:         Sat, 3 May 2008 19:46:49
Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] the long vowels as monophthongs

I don't follow all of his threads, but this seems to be the absolutely
clearest example that he can be given of what a diphthong is.

Because of the nature of English, native speakers are prone to hearing
certain diphthongs as monophthongal (just as the "t" in prince and
princess is nearly unrecognizable).

I do hope that others will chime in on this as I think it has the best
chance of getting through to him.

If it doesn't, his e-mail doesn't just go on my kill list, I'll
register it to my server for deletion so it's not even relayed to me. BB

On May 3, 2008, at 7:11 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:

> Mr. Zurinskas has been peddling his wacko ideas for at least twenty
> years
> and is proud of his ignorance -- or, as I suppose he thinks of it, his
> refusal to compromise his God-given instinct by listening to anyone
> who
> knows anything about the subject. Nothing we say will sway such deep-
> rooted
> obtuseness. Save your breath, save your fingertips, save your
> electrons,
> time, and energy and put him on your kill list.
> Of course, that won't help if you get the digest version. That was
> my single
> most compelling reason for switching my subscription.
> Mark A. Mandel
> On Sat, May 3, 2008 at 8:57 PM, Benjamin Barrett
> <gogaku at>
> wrote:
>> Those are what are referred to as diphthongs. BB
>> On May 3, 2008, at 5:23 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Tom Zurinskas <truespel at HOTMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject:      the long vowels as monophthongs
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The long vowels as one sound - monophthongs.  Go to the the link
>>> below.  I express the long vowels as I say them, and as I believe is
>>> the majority form in USA.  They are monophthongs to me.  Click on
>>> the play arrow twice to hear play.  If you can identify the phoneme
>>> in one sound, it's a monophthong.

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