/or/ distinctions and more

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 13 14:13:27 UTC 2000

If a northeasterner's perspective is of interest, HORSE and HOARSE are
homophones for me (and for most northeastern students in our dialects
class) but COT and CAUGHT are sharply distinguished.  I suspect that the
voiceless WH is on its way out--as a New Yorker, I never distinguished
'which' and 'witch' except metalinguistically to disambiguate them--but it
survives in pockets up here.  My wife, who grew up in Connecticut half a
century ago, retains the distinction, but our kids, who are currently
growing up in Connecticut, don't.


At 8:50 AM -0400 4/13/00, Bethany K. Dumas wrote:
>On Thu, 13 Apr 2000, Natalie Maynor wrote:
>>> Earlier somoene suggested that I am the last living speaker who
>>> distinguishes horse - hoarse. I also distinguish cot - caught etc.
>>The cot/caught distinction is alive and well in Mississippi, but
>>there are few horse/hoarse distinguishers.  (That's my unscientific
>>observation -- no real research.  I think it's a pretty accurate
>>observation, though, based on both what my ears tell me and on
>>discussions of these matters with students.)
>>On a phonologically different subject but on the relic thread, I'm
>>beginning to wonder if I might end up as the last living which/witch
>Nope. There are two of us.

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