Palin's speech

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Sep 29 14:31:55 UTC 2008

On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 10:03 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> Does anyone else remember using Henry Gleason's _Intro to Descriptive
> Linguistics_ as a text for Linguistics 101 or the equivalent in the
> 1960s?  I no longer know where my copy is, but I recall Gleason in
> his description of the American English vowel system citing _gonna_
> (in some varieties) as the one example of a vowel nucleus consisting
> of [o] (with no off-glide of the kind we have in _go_).  Of course
> "gunna" speakers with [^] or those who have an open-o [O] in "gonna"
> wouldn't help confirm that claim.  I convinced myself at the time
> that I did indeed have an [o] rather than [O] or [^] (which would
> have been a stressed schwa for Gleason), but now I'm not sure I
> really did.

>From Google Book Search (snippet view):

"Thus, BB [Bloch] pronounces _gonna_ (_I'm not gonna do it_) with a
short vowel in the first syllable which is phonetically very close to
the vowel of German _Sonne_. Though it occurs nowhere else in his
pronunciation of English, it must perhaps be reckoned as independent
phoneme parallel to the six short vowels." (_An Introduction to
Descriptive Linguistics_, Revised edition, p. 322)

This is a quote from:

George L. Trager and Bernard Bloch, "The Syllabic Phonemes of
English," _Language_, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1941), p. 243
(footnote 33).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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