Wedge and schwa

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Mar 9 18:48:04 UTC 2009

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:54 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at>
> IIRC, Trudgill's observations held for the early Beatles singing style, not
> their later work or their Scouse non-singing voices. And speaking of Beatles
> imitators, I'm reminded of the scene in the movie "Yellow Submarine" in which
> the voice actor playing Ringo says, after the Ringo character pulls a lever he
> shouldn't have, "I can't help it, I'm a born lever-puller [Liverpooler]." For
> that pun to work, the BUT vowel needs to approximate northern [U].

It occurs to me that this isn't exactly right... I use the BUT vowel for "pull",
"bull", etc., but those words have the GOOD vowel for most British speakers and
many Americans too. (I recall trying to tell a BrE speaker about the movie
"Bull Durham" and he was convinced I was saying "ball" instead of "bull",
thanks to my use of [V] rather than [U].) Northern BrE lacks the "foot-strut"
split and thus merges GOOD and BUT, but that would be irrelevant in the case of
"pull". (I think.)

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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