Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Tue Feb 1 11:54:39 UTC 2000

Thanks, Aaron, your explanation makes sense to me.  R-maintenance explains the
metatheses that create onset clusters, but then we still have to account for
the examples people have claimed where the opposite happens.  Preliminary ->
perliminary.  In those cases, it seems perhaps the vowel is being lost,
rather then metathesizing with  the /r/--the /r/ is  becoming the
vowel, rather than switching places with it.  Since the vowels in these
positions have already weakened to schwa, that makes some sense to me.
I'm sure someone will tell me if it doesn't make sense in the real world.


Aaron Drews said:>
> I'm hazarding a guess that the motivation is the maintenance of /r/ as a
> consonant in the inventory, for this particular case of metathesis.  /r/
> has always been funky in the history of English: from causing some Old
> English sound changes (I think along with /h/~/x/) while other consonants
> did nothing; to the 18th-19th century lenition of post-vocalic /r/, even
> in American English.  Yet, /r/ has never left.
> For the non-rhotic accents (I'm not sure about the American south), the
> post-vocalic /r/ has jumped syllables and become onset-only, hence
> intrusive-r/linking-r.  The same thing is happening with our modren
> southren Aussie metathesis, a consonantal /r/ is remaining a consonant by
> moving to a syllable onset, just moving left instead of right.  In
> syllable rhyme, I find it extremely difficult to classify /r/ as a
> consonant.  I have yet to see a spectrogram of rhotic American English
> where a vowel clearly ends (especially schwa) and /r/ begins. Onsets are a
> different story, and so /r/ can be maintaned as a consonant, even if that
> means it has the same distribution as /h/.
> Some accents of Cockney/Estuary lack this motivation, and syllable onset
> /r/ is [V], a labiodental approximant.  Sometimes this approximant extends
> to syllable-rhyme /r/, or rather the off-glide equivlant to AmE tense
> vowels plus /r/.   This allows  /r/ (or whatever the underlying form is)
> to be maintained and with 'full' distribution.
> In short, the motivation is "I've got this /r/, and I want to keep it,
> even if it means changing a few other things around"..... IMHO :-)
> --Aaron
> ________________________________________________________________________
> Aaron E. Drews                               The University of Edinburgh
> aaron at                  Departments of English Language and
>       Theoretical & Applied  Linguistics
>         --Death

More information about the Ads-l mailing list