vowels front and back

Michael Newman michael.newman at QC.CUNY.EDU
Fri Nov 4 15:13:38 UTC 2011

I wouldn't say that they don't refer to tongue positions. Vowel charts suggest tongue positions kind of how an NYC subway map suggests surface directions and distance, sort of kind of but not really very exactly but ultimately it's an organizing principle.

Michael Newman
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Queens College/CUNY
michael.newman at qc.cuny.edu

On Nov 4, 2011, at 3:00 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:      vowels front and back
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> From an email
> The main tool that phoneticians use for organising vowels is the IPA quadrilateral. Although its axes use labels like 'front-back' and 'high-low' these do not refer to tongue positions. It sounds like they should, it may well be that they originally did, but in fact these are acoustic labels. (In our view, it's pretty irresponsible for phoneticians to persist in describing vowels this way, given the potential and actual confusion it causes, but this is what they do.)
> So just what is "front" and "back"?
> Tom Zurinskas, Conn 20 yrs, Tenn 3, NJ 33, now Fl 9.
> See how English spelling links to sounds at http://justpaste.it/ayk
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list