Boston/Worcester "cahn't"

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 9 14:11:04 UTC 2009

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:38 PM, Amy West <medievalist at> wrote:
> I've probably asked this before, so if someone is patient enough to
> explain it to me again, very slowly, using small words, you can
> e-mail me directly instead of bothering the whole list.
> What rule is it that is governing the lengthening of  "a" in "can't"?
> I hear it out hear in some Worcester pronunciations and it really
> jumps out at my foreign ear. Why is it happening?

There's no rule governing the broad A, and there is quite a lot of
inconsistency among BrE speakers, let alone New England speakers.  It
often happens before [n].

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society -

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