more vowel weirdness

Donald M. Lance LanceDM at MISSOURI.EDU
Mon Nov 6 20:14:04 UTC 2000

> >Dale Coye wrote:
> >>>>>>
> >>If this is the feature I think you mean, I've noticed it from private school
> >>grads (Exeter, Andover, Lawrenceville, and others) as far back as the late
> >>70s.   A fronted first element-- almost as in RP. I always wondered how
> >>widespread it was.
> ><<<<<
> >
> >dInIs aens at rd:
> >>>>>>
> >Careful of its widespreadedness. Its source at the yuppie places you
> >mention is almost certainly RP (although I'd be happy to hear of other
> >theories), but back-vowel fronting is rampant in the American South and,
> >with slightly different pohonetic details, "Valley Girl," the latter
> >spreading like wildfire to the East. All these similar shifts may be
> >bumping heads in some places.
> ><<<<<
> >
> >As I've read RP described, and heard it, the first element of the diphthong
> >in "hope" is not a fronted [o] but its opposite, a backed [e] or
> >*unrounded* [o], with the IPA symbol called "ram's horns" or "baby gamma".
> >
> >-- Mark

> Laurence Horn wrote:

> Exactly.  You've put your finger on what I found unsatisfactory in
> the previous invocations of RP, which Ainsley's vowel didn't strike
> me as being at all reminiscent of.  Her vowel is indeed fronted,
> although I'm still not sure whether it's a symptom of southernness,
> private school pretentiousness, both, or neither.    RP I'm pretty
> sure it's not.

I agree that it is probably not a direct imitation of RP.  In an earlier e-mail, I
mentioned friends of mine from southern WV who have this feature, and they certainly were
not from the "private school" set.  There may be a historical element of Southern
pretentiousness in it -- a 1930s analogue to the burnout/redneck dichotomy (cf. T. Habick)
in Southern communities, with the "higher class" group aspiring to membership in country
clubs rather than to school-related goals.

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