Southern /r/: was Re: /Vlk/ --> /Vhk/ --> /Vk/

Mon Nov 13 14:13:40 UTC 2000

For most Midwesterners I've checked, the /s/ before /r/ is retroflexed, by assimilation to the /r/, not palato-alveolar.  (If you whisper the words "shrimp" and "ship", you can hear the difference in oral cavity resonance clearly.)  This is the same retroflexion found with /t/ and /d/.  I have found contrasts between Midwestern speakers who say /grosri/ and those who say /gros,ri/ (comma marks retroflexion) and also for /n at rsri/ vs. /n at rs,ri/, and I've heard differences between /lVgz,ri/ and lVgZ at rj@s/.

In those dialects that do not retroflex the /s/ before /r/ but have /srimp/ etc. instead, is the /r/different?  Is it less retroflexed than the Midwestern /r/?  I know that Central Indiana has very strong retroflexion.  As a choir director and choral singer, I find it almost impossible to eliminate it from Hoosier choral diction.

Herb Stahlke
Ball State University

>>> rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU 11/13/00 04:04AM >>>
Disagreeing with my good friend Don Lance, Southern /SrImp/ becoming
/srImp/ (loss of contrast of /S/:/s/ before /r/) is in no way parallel to
the vocalization and loss of /l/ in the context V__k (or more generally
V__C). The closest thing to an inverse parallel is Southern loss of /r/
following a (voiceless) dental fricative and preceding a back vowel, as in
"from", "throw", "through".


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