[Ads-l] /d/ for flapped /t/

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 16 18:55:47 UTC 2014

On Nov 16, 2014, at 12:40 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> I have a hypothesis -- Many metropolitan New Yorkers distinguish more phonemes* than many other Americans due to their heritage from earlyNew York City, which had the most heterogeneous and polyglot population of the colonial American period?
> * I say phonemes since some of us can hear "latter" vs "ladder", "betting' vs. "bedding". "writing" vs. "riding", "mat" vs. "mad", "lats" vs. "lads".  Or are these T's and D's already phonemes?  Are the altered vowels of the pre-/t/ and pre-/d/ environments also phonemes?
> Joel

Depends on where you get your phonemes from.  On the (post-Bloomfieldian) phonemic theories I grew up on as an undergraduate, yes; on the phonological theories I learned later in graduate school, i.e. generative phonology as of Sound Pattern of English where morphological information is incorporated and there's no autonomous "classical phonemic level", no. The /d/ vs. /t/ distinction, which you need to account for alternations like "late"/"latter", "bet"/"betting", "bed"/"bedding", etc., conditions the vowel distinctions before becoming neutralized intervocalically in the relevant dialects. There are no "biunique" mappings between phonemic and phonetic representations.

> At 11/16/2014 12:12 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> On Nov 16, 2014, at 11:59 AM, Paul A Johnston, Jr. wrote:
>> > That could be. In many dialects, you'll have vowel allophony--frequently length, but often quality as well, distinguishing pre-/t/ from pre-/d/ environments.  Many of my students (from various parts of MI) have front-side Canadian Raising, and so, they distinguish writer/rider as [@I] vs. [aI] before the flap (others have length distinctions alone, like Chicago or Cleveland).  I don't know about latter/ladder and the like, since Great Lakes dialects can turn the /ae/ into [eae] before voiced and voiceless consonants alike.  On the other hand, I have the usual Metro NY distinction in latter/ladder; most frequently, the first one has a centralized [ae], the second, a fronter, longer and slightly raised [ae] in my case (occasionally an ingliding diphthong).
>> Is that usual in Metro NY?  I have the length distinction you mention in "writer"/"rider" without the Canadian Raising quality distinction, and I have completely different vowels in the closed syllables of "lad" and "(s)lat" or of "mad"/"mat", but I feel impressionistically as though I merge "latter"/"ladder" and "matter"/"madder".  Of course, as Labov would point out, maybe I don't.
>> LH
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message -----
>> >> From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> >> Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 3:48:59 PM
>> >> Subject: Re: /d/ for flapped /t/
>> >>
>> >> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> >> -----------------------
>> >> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> >> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> >> Subject:      Re: /d/ for flapped /t/
>> >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >>
>> >> Answering Wilson also.
>> >>
>> >> I can hear a difference when I speak knowing that there might be a
>> >> difference.  And it sounds (I think!) somewhat like what Jon is
>> >> describing.  I think I even lower the tone of the "a" when I say
>> >> "ladder" as compared to "latter".  But am I biasing myself to prove a
>> >> preconceived hypothesis?
>> >>
>> >> Probably my test would only tell me what I can *hear* if I listened
>> >> to someone else speak a (potential minimal) pair -- such as
>> >> latter/ladder, butter/budder, better/bedder.  But then I would have
>> >> to listen to someone who makes the distinction in speaking, wouldn't
>> >> I?
>> >>
>> >> Joel
>> >>
>> >> At 11/15/2014 08:09 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> >>> I believe I can hear the difference although it is subtle.
>> >>>
>> >>> /d/ sounds (and feels) to me minutely longer and more emphatic. (A
>> >>> phonologist could say that better.)
>> >>>
>> >>> Many of us will remember entire classrooms of students of whom only
>> >>> two or
>> >>> three could hear the difference between /a/ and /C/ (e.g., "pa" and
>> >>> "paw,"
>> >>> "hottie" and "haughty").  Practice helped, but it didn't help
>> >>> everybody.
>> >>
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>> >>
>> >
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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