Still the same

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 4 22:23:46 UTC 2012

Back around 1950, I was recounting to a white friend an SF story
featuring a spaceship named _Mole_ traveling into an unexplored,
relatively-empty region of space known as the "Coalsack." The ship's
crew felt psychic pressure in the form a voice in their heads
commanding, "[Turn] Back, Mole!"

He repeated this command as "Back, _Moe_!"

And you know the story of the Army buddy who, ten years later, thought
that I pronounced "cool" as "coo."

A transcription of a song by Afroman, of (perhaps) "But I Got High" fame:

Blanche, (Blanche), the Golden Girl (Golden Girl)
If i had a chance i'd rock her world
She's _o_, but she's a winner

C'moan, now, yawl! "O"?! That's clearly _ol(d)_!

To give the transcriber some slack, perhaps he's too young to be
familiar with The Golden Girls and concluded that _o_ was some slang

When I was taking articulatory phonetics 101, the prof stated that
vowels are redundantly (a) not long before voiceless consonants, (b)
longer before voiced consonants, and (c) longest in open syllables.

"Don't you mean, 'longest before voiced consonants'?"

"No. But, I'm talking DE-scription, not PRE-scription. if that's the
way that it works for you…"

In BE, the vowel of _coo_ is *much* shorter than the vowel of _cool_.

WRT to the /l/ of, e.g. _cool_, a WAG:

Since I can feel the apex of my tongue touch my alveolar ridge, I
*know* that I'm articulating the /l/. Yet, experience shows that white
people don't hear it. OTOH, I and, IME, most other BE-speakers, hear
white people saying "coo-wul, mo-wul."

In BE, rounding is maintained throughout the pronunciation, from
beginning to end, so that, to the unsophisticated ear, there is no [l]
only more [u, o]. In sE, the rounding ceases with the articulation of
the /u, o/ and that unrounding strikes the unsophisticated ear as the
insertion of a shwa (I purposely don't use the "correct" spelling)
before the [l]. Of course, nothing is universal. There are plenty of
other sE-speakers who *don't* do this. Instead, they pronounce "cool"
so that it rhymes with "full," to the unsophisticated ear.

Of course, there are other environments in which black speakers, in
fact, do *not*, in informal speech, articulate [l] (and [r]), as
miscorrections like (table >) "taber" and (reefer >) "reefle" in
formal speech show. This kind of thing also occurs in informal speech,
when the word immediately following begins with a vowel.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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